Saturday, October 24, 2009

Chicago Snapshots

The sunflower that ate Chicago

Elston Avenue, at sunset

The first four photographs were filtered using the iPhone application CameraBag. Photos 1-3 are from the Forgotten Chicago tour of west Pilsen and Little Village. These neighborhoods are largely un-gentrified, and remind me of how the north side of Chicago looked when I first moved here, in 1984. Photo number 2 is an old Schlitz "tied" house. Tied houses were possibly the first franchise concept ever: a tavern where everything from the product and interior furnishings, to the building itself, were supplied by one brewer. The prohibition killed these off, and laws afterwards prevented brewers from owning taverns.

A cluster of Schlitz and Stege brewery houses still stand within blocks of each other in the Pilsen/Little Village area. As we took pictures of a former Stege house, a trio of middle-school-aged girls hung out of the windows of an apartment building across the street. "Is this a famous bar?!!" one of them asked, since a crowd of white people with cameras is not exactly a common sight in Little Village. I tried to explain that it was sorta famous, in the context of things. The girls gazed on at the tavern with a new reverence.

"Tied Houses" Forgotten Chicago. [Link]

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Sunday Music: Starship

This gentleman is Vincent Falk, aka Suit Man, Fashion Man or "Riverace." He has only partial eyesight. His day job is as a computer programmer, but after work he stands on the State Street bridge and peacocks wildly colorful attire at passing tour boats. If you ever happen upon him, take a moment to chat and be subjected to some of the corniest jokes outside of a Bazooka Joe gum wrapper. I was kind of down the day I took this photo, but he had me laughing out loud. I asked him where he gets his suits. Roberto's, of course! Roberto's Men and Boys Clothing is the mens' apparel outlet for street-corner preachers and aficionados of "Purple Rain" co-star Morris Day. If you need a fuchsia satin frock coat or an electric-blue fedora, Roberto's can hook you up. The Roberto's store building also has the distinction of being voted one of the "10 Ugliest Buildings in the Loop" by the Chicago Tribune.

I took Suit Man's picture with my iPhone. I just love the iPhone app CameraBag, which allows you to apply filters that can change your photo's appearance to that of an older camera or print process. The top snap is "Lolo," (Lomo) followed by "1974," which captures the washed-out quality of of Dad's Instamatics from that era. Others that I like are "Helga" (Holga) and the b&w "1962" filter. I'll put some of the other filtered pics in my next post.

As I struggled to come up with a topic for today's post, I kept humming a song chorus that had become a persistent brainworm.

We built this city
We built this city on Rock an' Roll!
Built this city
We built this city on Rooock an' Roooll!

Oh dear God...I have had to listen to this song twice a week for the last two months. That's every time I take my fitness bootcamp class. Appropriately enough, I am starting to associate it with physical pain.

"We Built This City," was released in 1985 by Starship, a band that was formed by a couple of Jefferson Airplane...meh, who cares? The song, which is very catchy despite having ridiculously bombastic lyrics that sound like they were penned by someone with a brain injury (i.e, Bernie Taupin), made #1 on the Billboard charts. I didn't have cable in 1985, so perhaps that explains why I have no memory of this hilarious music video. A couple of observations: Grace Slick has never looked worse. Also, if I was the director, I damn well would have gotten more for my money out of the Abe Lincoln statue impersonator. How about having Abe break dance or something? He also should have had a second appearance in the video, perhaps running in front of the giant die.

In closing, as the wise t-shirt said, "A city built on rock and roll would be structurally unsound."

Vincent: A Life in Color [Link]

Roberto's Building (Chicago Architecture Info) [Link]

Run for your life! It's the 50 worst songs ever! [Link]