The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Nature's assholes

Red wing blackbirds continue to menace people in Lincoln Park:

"Red-winged blackbirds are protecting their nests, and they can be pretty mean about it," said Kate Golemblewski, spokeswoman for the Field Museum.

"They don't get aggressive until they are well into the breeding season and have a nest to protect. They are highly territorial, aggressive to almost anything that comes too close, especially things that are bigger than they are and that they see as a threat, including hawks, crows, cats and people."

Fortunately for Chicagoans who like to stroll around outside when the weather is agreeable, the territory red-winged blackbirds prefer to occupy is relatively remote in the city. "Peterson First Guides" to North American birds says they like "marshes, swamps and hayfields." 

Of course, those areas include the lakefront, including around the bike path.

And then there was one

Sears, which CEO Eddie Lampert has very nearly murdered, will have only one retail store left in its home town Chicago this fall:

Sears Holdings Corp. is closing 20 more stores, including a Sears in Chicago's Galewood neighborhood, in mid-September.

Those closings — including 18 Sears and two Kmart stores — follow 150 stores Hoffman Estates-based Sears shuttered in the first quarter of this year and another 66 expected to close by early September.

The latest 20 are among the 235 locations Sears sold to its real estate investment trust spinoff, Seritage Growth Properties, in 2015. Seritage reported the closings in an SEC filing Friday.

Remember, Lampert is destroying the greatest retailer in American history so he can sell its parts for scrap. When historians write about this era centuries from now, Lampert will be regarded as we think of Nero. But as a nihilist Ayn Rand disciple, he really doesn't care.

Article round-up for Thursday

I really need some sleep. And some time to read all of these:

And now, back to my job.

Our civic boosters

Crain's asks, Who wants to move to Chicago?

A major Chicago company, we hear, is having a harder time persuading recruits to move here. Full employment, especially among the well-compensated professionals it's hiring, might seem to blame. But the company isn't struggling to attract talent in markets where jobless rates are even lower than metro Chicago's most recent rate of 4.3 percent. What's the problem then? It's the candidates' fear that Chicago and Illinois generally have become risky places in which to buy a home and raise a family.

When the General Assembly reconvenes June 21, it could put some of those worries to rest and pass an actual state budget for the first time in two years. That would require compromise from Gov. Bruce Rauner as well as his Democratic adversaries, House Speaker Michael Madigan and Senate President John Cullerton. For far too long, they've put their own re-elections ahead of the commonweal. Meanwhile, the state stumbles along, spending far more than it's taking in. Meanwhile, too, the unthinkable becomes less improbable: Without state support, junk-rated governments in Illinois, including the city of Chicago, Chicago Public Schools and a half-dozen state universities, could essentially go under.

Unfortunately, the Crain's editorial board offers no solutions. Nor can they. Because they're in the same uncomfortable position Kansas Republicans are in: their guy is the one holding the state hostage. 

Yes, the legislature and the governor need to compromise. But only one of them is an ideological dead-ender.

How to take back the House

Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and Bruce Reed, who together engineered the Democratic mid-term victory in 2006, have some advice for the party in 2018:

In the last 60 years, control of the U.S. House of Representatives has changed hands just three times, always in midterm elections, with control shifting away from the president’s party. The 1994 and 2010 campaigns were dominated by attacks against the incumbent president and his party over health care; 2006 became a referendum over the ruling party’s incompetence and corruption. In percentage terms, the worst midterm defeat in the past century came in 1974, when a nation weary of obstruction of justice sent a quarter of the House Republican caucus packing.

Democrats don’t just need to choose the right battles, they also need to choose credible candidates who can win them. Candidate quality may not make the difference in a place like Montana’s at-large district, where Greg Gianforte won handily just hours after assaulting a reporter. Winning hotly contested swing seats, however, requires candidates who closely match their districts—even if they don’t perfectly align with the national party’s activist base.

Here's hoping they're right, and the national Democratic party gets its shit together.

Monday evening reading

Stuff I didn't get to because I was doing my job today:

Time for a martini, clearly.

Great restaurant, pity about the massive theft

The owners of one of the West Loop's hippest restaurants fled the country, leaving behind $1.5m in debts and judgments and nearly bankrupting the chef:

One day last summer, sometime after Attila Gyulai and his wife and business partner abruptly shut what was once one of the hottest restaurants in Chicago, they abandoned their Ford Flex SUV in front of their River West home. Police ticketed the car two​ weeks later and impounded it in mid-August. By then, bank records later would show, their accounts had been used for a series of payments outside the United States. The co-owners of Embeya, a progressive Asian restaurant in the West Loop that won national accolades for its inventive cooking and sleek design, have not been seen in Chicago since.

In all, Cook County court documents show, they absconded​ with more than $1.5 million from the restaurant, which was owned in part by their former chef, Thai Dang, and Dang's older brother, Kenny. The couple also racked up personal and business debts to purveyors, banks, suppliers, landlords, attorneys and credit card companies, according to court records, bank statements and interviews with more than a dozen former colleagues, friends, family members and neighbors. They've been ordered by judges to pay the Dang brothers nearly $1.5 million to cover their losses.

Dang, 32, and his wife, Danielle Dang, 36, who are about to open their next restaurant, have tracked Gyulai and Patel's movements through bank records obtained with a subpoena. They say it's clear the two schemed to take money from the business​ far in advance of their departures. "He threw his life away here—burned it with a match, all in the name of money," Thai Dang says. "He went through painstaking efforts and a great extent to hide money and move it out so nobody could find it." Adds Danielle Dang: "What they did to us is unspeakable. It takes so much hate and effort to do something like that to another person."

It was a great restaurant, and I ate there many times. And I hope Gyulai and Patel are apprehended and remanded to Chicago soon.

But is Chicago really a rib town?

I forgot to mention this article in today's Tribune:

Short of ripping raw flesh from a freshly killed beast in the wild, meat eating doesn't get much more primal than ribs. Sure, chicken wings also have bones, but they are miniature little things one can pick up with two fingers. You can find them on the appetizer section of the menu. A full slab of ribs lands on the table with a thud, like a declaration of true gluttony. They also function as a fair warning to nearby persons to avoid eye contact as things are about to get messy.

Mention ribs, and most people know exactly what you're talking about: a wide hunk of pork interspersed with long bones. Even without considering how they are cooked (smoked, baked or boiled), you know what they look like. But just as there are different cuts of steak, there are numerous kinds of ribs. Four show up the most in Chicago — baby back ribs, spareribs, St. Louis ribs and rib tips. Baby back ribs come from high on the pig's rib cage near the loin, resulting in lean and tender meat. Spareribs are cut from lower down the rib and are meatier and fattier, with one side featuring a host of bones and cartilage. Trim away that gnarly side from the spare rib, and you have St. Louis ribs. The piece you trimmed away is called the rib tip.

One rule of thumb for Chicago ribs? The more comfortable you are, the less likely it is that you're eating real barbecue.

I now have a new list of places to try this summer. Yum.