I was in meetings almost without break from 10am until just a few minutes ago, so a few things have piled up in my inbox:
And no matter where you are in the world, you can attend Apollo After Hours next Friday at 19:00 CDT / midnight UTC. It's going to be a ton of fun.
Stuff to read:
Finally, last June, Jennifer Giesbrecht wrote that "Babylon 5 is the greatest, most terrible SF series." She's mostly right.
Chicago had no official Independence Day fireworks display this year, because we didn't want to encourage a million people to converge on Grant Park. Instead, we appear to have had a record number of, ah, unofficial displays:
The 911 call center received 9,092 calls between June 28 and Sunday, approximately three times the number of calls received in the same time period last year, according to data provided by Mary May, an Office of Emergency Management and Communications spokesperson.
As of Sunday, the city had received a total of 19,925 fireworks-related calls this year, compared with 4,612 calls by the same date last year — a 332% increase.
Several Indiana fireworks stores faced shortages in supply leading up to July 4. Illinoisans looking to buy fireworks often travel to neighboring states such as Indiana, where sale and possession of consumer pyrotechnics are legal.
The Chicago Fire Department responded to 33 calls and made 26 transports due to fireworks-related injuries from Friday to Sunday of the July 4 weekend, Meritt said.
Let that not obscure the problem that Chicago also has way more illegal firearms these days. This weekend, people shot and killed 17 others, including a 7-year-old girl. And because of the 2nd Amendment fanatics in rural areas, we don't have the tools we need to clamp down on it.
I originally posted the top photo a couple of weeks ago, before I found the legal loophole allowing me to take my drone above 120 m AGL. (It turns out I can take it 120 m above the tallest structure within 120 m.) So early this morning, in calm winds, I took it up to 150 m, almost exactly matching the view. If only my drone had a slightly longer lens, I could duplicate it exactly. At least I got the parallax right, meaning I now know the original photo was taken only 150 m up. It would not be legal for a fixed-wing airplane to fly so low today; you'd need a helicopter and permission.
I also plan to re-shoot a bunch of these after the trees lose their leaves this fall.
I found this photo of the 800 West block of Montrose in April 1891 in a Chicago Public Library collection:
Here's the same place yesterday:
A few things have changed. In 1891, Montrose was paved for the half-block between Clarnedon and the Lake, and the apartment developer had built a proper curb from Dayton to Clarendon on the south side. I expect that the city paved the rest of Montrose shortly after this photo.
The park to the left became a hospital in 1957, which closed in 2009 and was demolished in 2016. The high-rise center frame marks the shoreline in the top photo. Lake Michigan is now over a kilometer farther west after the construction of Montrose Harbor in the 1930s.
Welcome to stop #27 on the Brews and Choos project.
Brewery: Oak Park Brewing Co., 155 S. Oak Park Ave., Oak Park
Train line: Union Pacific West, Oak Park
Time from Chicago: 16 minutes (Zone B)
Distance from station: 700 m
Oak Park Brewing Co. is the first brewpub in Oak Park since 1872, when the village went dry. Yesterday evening an old friend and I donned masks and sat outside in the perfect weather to have pub food and, in my case anyway, beer.
From left to right, I sampled: the Leprechaun Zombie (4.1%, 26 IBU), a smooth nitro stout that reminded me of Guinness if Guinness had flavor; London Britches English porter (5.6%, 33 IBU), a malty, complex brew with lots of different flavors as befits a porter; Helles Other People (4.9%, 18 IBU), a nice, light Munich lager; Baby Got Bock Maibock (7.0%, 23 IBU), an interesting bock I might have to have again soon; and finally the Mary Hoppins APA (5.4%, 38 IBU), a well-balance, not-too-hoppy pale ale that was so good I had another couple of pints.
Their wings were very good as well.
Beer garden? Yes
Dogs OK? Sort of: the Village says no, but...
Televisions? Yes, 2
Serves food? Yes, full pub menu
Would hang out with a book? Yes
Would hang out with friends? Yes
Would go back? Yes
The Apollo Chorus of Chicago annual benefit will take place at 7pm on Friday July 17th. We have to do it online, of course, but the original plan had us at Mayne Stage on April 4th. I had to go up there tonight to take some publicity photos, and I remembered I took this photo in April 1993:
Here's the same scene two hours ago:
Mayne Stage is on the left, in the space that apparently used to be the Cobbler's Mall behind the Poolgogi Steak House.
The neighborhood has changed quite a bit in the last 27 years, though the ethnic diversity still remains. Obviously there are a few new buildings, and the garish signs have come down from the liquor store and Morse Gyros take-out. (Both are still there.) And the Lunt Bus still stops at the Morse El, just as it did when my father was a kid.
A couple on the north side of Chicago planted hedges around a patch of public park land and fought the city's attempts to get the land back for 15 years. Then a local blog got ahold of the story, and the hedges came right out:
About 8:30 a.m., a landscaping crew was at the home in the 3000 block of North Lake Shore Drive West to remove the hedgerow on public land. The politically connected homeowner, businessman Michael Tadin Jr., confirmed he ordered the bushes removed.
As neighbors watched the hedgerow being torn out, one person passing by said, “I can’t tell you how happy this makes me.”
Another walked up, threw an egg at the house and left a bag of dog poop on the lawn.
Block Club revealed Tuesday that Tadin Jr. and his wife, Natalie Tadin, planted hedges around the 3,000 square feet of Chicago Park District land in front of their home, according to an inspector general report issued last week.
The entire block from Wellington to Barry that faces Lake Shore Drive West was previously a convent for a religious order. About 15 years ago, the mansion and chapel on Barry were converted to residential use when the property was sold and the land around it was rezoned.
I have a particular interest in this story because I used to live directly above the property in question. I'll try to find a photo of it from before the convent closed.
Welp, it's July now, so we've completed half of 2020. (You can insert your own adverb there; I'll go with "only.")
A couple of things magically changed or got recorded at midnight, though. Among them:
And finally, I am now officially the President of the Apollo Chorus of Chicago. My first task: ensure that our annual fundraiser, Apollo After Hours, brings in the dough. More on that later.
Vox has called the US Senate Democratic Party primary in Kentucky for Amy McGrath, but the main national outlets don't have it yet. [Note: I have contributed financially to Amy McGrath's campaign.] So while I wait for confirmation from the Washington Post (or, you know, the Kentucky State Board of Elections), here's other fun stuff:
- As threatened, the European Union has barred travelers from the United States from entering, because of our shit response to Covid-19.
- The shit response includes record numbers of deaths in Arizona, Florida, and Texas, even as Illinois recorded the fewest deaths since April yesterday.
- The shit response may have something to do with an intelligence failure at the highest levels of government, as Carl Bernstein documents yet another day of White House officials "expressing concern" (but still collaborating).
- The shit response moved David Frum to state the obvious: "This is Trump's Plague Now."
- McSweeney's has cataloged 759 instances (so far) of "Trump's Worst Cruelties, Collusions, Corruptions, and Crimes."
- Facebook plans to build an $800 million data center in DeKalb, about 90 km west of Chicago.
Finally, Jeffrey Toobin attempts to explain "Why the Mueller Investigation Failed."
Update: NBC calls Kentucky for McGrath.