Lawn Art from Avondale Chicago

Lawn Art from Avondale Chicago

Inside the Preston Bradley Center

I spent over two hours in the Preston Bradley center with Reverend Jean Darling, David Karcher , and Virginia Polk, which provided more material than I could possibly cover in one readable blog entry. Below are some of the things that I ran out of space to cover.

Preston Bradley Center - Preston Bradley's door

Reverend Preston Bradley was quite a character.  My favorite story was that he was suspended from Moody Bible college for being seen leaving a movie theater and smoking a cigar. He, in fact, left quite a few organizations because he was “too” liberal, he started as a Presbyterian minister but was accused of heresy because he wouldn’t accept that unbaptized infants were going to hell. After leaving the Presbyterians and the Moody Bible College, he started his own church which merged with the existing People’s Church in 1912.

Preston Bradley Center - small green door that leads to crawl space above autotorium ceiling 

This is the small green door (David Karcher kindly providing size comparison).  It leads to the roof over the auditorium, probably for repair purposes.  This also quite nicely demonstrates the cause of the half-floors.  The auditorium is a full three stories high (out of six mind you) and the bottom bit takes up over a story itself.  Therefore, the balcony ends up aligned halfway through the second floor and the very top of the dome halfway through the third.

As for the Mason’s Hall.  Below is one of the blackened murals lightened up as much as my scanty Photoshop skills would allow.Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - Photoshop lightened mural

You can see the oasis on the left side along with maybe a building?  Here’s what it looks like unedited;  the oasis is still slightly visible if you really squint.  This is on the East side (to your left when you walk in).Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - Un-photoshopped mural

A few more Mason’s Hall pictures.  I really wish I had thought to take a (real) panorama shot.  This is of the back (North) wall and you’d walk into the hall from that left corner.  Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - Back wall

A detail of the left corner:Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - back wall mural

It’s hard to get a full feeling for the south-oriented front, but here’s a Frankenstein image to give an idea.Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - south facing front murals now with frankensteining

Finally the last set of murals on the West wall (to your right as you walk in).Preston Bradley Center Mason's Hall - west side murals

Preston Bradley Center - heating cooling unit

Moving on, here’s a shot of the heating/cooling system.  It was high-tech for it’s time because it heated outside air which was then ventilated throughout the building via fan.  Starbucks cup not original as far as I understand.

Preston Bradley Center hat racks

The church shared a few old pictures with me; my favorite showed how large the congregation once was (it’s now down to 20-30 people).Church service circa 1930

I have a few more things to show but I can’t bear to deal with any more photo editing tonight.


changing graffiti

More #48WardLoveLocal

Yep, that’s me making chain mail because who *doesn’t* have a chain mail craft store in their neighborhood?



A Love Letter to My Neighborhood

In my ten years in Chicago, I’ve lived in five apartments in three neighborhoods, but it’s my most recent neighborhood, Edgewater, where I’ve found my Chicago.

cookies and carnitas

Edgewater is brilliant for so many reasons.  

I live two blocks from the lake/beach – one of Chicago’s best features.  There’s a plethora of places to go and things to see.  Within a mile of my house is two Ethiopian restaurants, seven or so coffee shops, uncountable amount of pho places, a beautiful brand-new library, two soda-fountainy type places, and tons of random art.  We might currently not really have any real food stores at the moment, but if you need Kinder hippos, aloe leaves, nuoc cham, or veladoras, we’ve got you covered.  There’s a wide variety of people and they’re friendly, smiling and talking to their neighbors.  Despite the people and places, it’s still quiet(ish), neighborhoody, with trees and green space, and not the hustle-and-bustle that other places might have.

In short, I love it.  So when I learned about 48 Ward* Love Local, a month of  discounts at local places, I was super excited.  I was even MORE excited when I learned that if you participated in at least five deals and either shared on social media or sent your receipts in, you could win lunch with the alderman.**  I have become obsessed with winning that lunch; I’m not exactly sure why.  Possibly since it looks like I have a fairly good chance of winning looking at social media.  Possibly because the whole concept of aldermen is weird.  I’ve already been to my five places, including Cookies and Carnitas (above), but there’s a few more on our household list, and a lot of pictures to share.

I also just realized that this sounds like some sort of crappy sponsored post or something.  It’s not, I just get excited about really weird things.

*technically wards and neighborhoods don’t match up, but whatever.  I love my ward too and my local neighborhoods!

**aldermen are both like the mayor and the senator of your neighborhood.  Chicago is weird.  And awesome.  I’ve met my alderman, Harry Osterman, several times and could go and talk to him at his office whenever, so it’s even weirder that I’ve become obsessed.

Hashtags as Parenthetical Commentary

I have been sick in bed for the last week and took the opportunity to read way way too many odd vampire/supernatural YA books.  As I was composing a Facebook update on the situation I found an almost unnatural urge to hashtag the hell out of it.  Specifically:

I have spent the last week sick in bed reading trashy YA fiction.  

#noshame #wellsomeshame #no #noshame!

It’s unnatural because I hate hashtags.  They look ugly, tend to pile up at the ends of things, and seem like yet another way to sell yourself, SEO your social media up the wazoo.  However, I do love parenthetical commentary (the act of adding a somewhat random or underemphasized comment to text).  #seewhatIdidthere #alsowhatIdidthere

There’s a certain allure with saying something without “owning up” to saying it. Hashtagging how I feel about reading trashy YA fiction allows me to indicate my mixed feelings without actually having to own up to either the reading or the mixed feelings.

I wonder if, as we live increasingly in a text-based atmosphere where vocal and body language nuance are stripped out, if this sort of sub-conversational comments will increase.  Even as we’ve moved to platforms where there is less text-based information such as Instagram, hashtags have become even more popular.

Note:  While this occurred to me unprompted, I am not the first person to note this behavior.  Language Log; NYT; Gizmodo; New Yorker.

Working Through Whiteness or Yeah, I read that stupid yoga article too

A couple of days ago, XOJane published an article called “It Happened to Me:  There Are No Black People in My Yoga Classes and I’m Uncomfortable With It.”  If you happen to be one of the three people who haven’t read it, it is actually even stupider than you would expect from the title. 

 Reading it, however, brought back old college memories for me, specifically of my senior seminar, Working Through Whiteness.  Yep, not only did I take a class called Working Through Whiteness, I was required to take a class called Working Through Whiteness.  And buy a book called Working Through Whiteness, which the internet informs me cost thirty-two bucks.  This is the sort of thing that is responsible for people making fun of liberal arts colleges.

 Everything else I had a choice, French or German, bio or chem, even queer versus feminist theory for my major, but Working Through Whiteness? That was the one immovable boulder in my college career.  Three hours a week for twelve weeks, a group of mainly super-rich girls and one guy and I sat around talking about… well I took the class and I still have no fucking idea whatever it was we actually talked about.  There were a few rules, though, of whiteness club. 

  1.  Never talk about our class privilege ever, even though nearly everyone was not just rich, but my family has multiple houses rich.  Just pretend you know what it might be like to be poor or at least lower-middle class.
  2. Never talk about anything practical.  The minute we get towards discussing anything that might leave the realm of theory, flee immediately.
  3. Never wonder what they would have done if any of the women and gender studies majors was, you know, not white.  This rule was so strong that it just occurred to me this morning, ten years later.  What would they have done?  Given her an A+ and a pass to study hall?

 While I don’t know what we talked about, at least much, I do remember how we talked.  We talked exactly like that stupid yoga article.  How we now realized that we were white and got stuff that “people of color”* didn’t get.  How uncomfortable that made us.  I remember some crying.  I think we even talked about the tyranny of white thinness on African American women. 

 I thought it was stupid then, I think it’s stupid now, but that’s how someone who should know better can write an article like that and be surprised when it turns out to be a bad idea.

*actual term we were supposed to use.  Something about solidarity of racial minorities against white people.  It always uncomfortably reminded me of the term colored people but those type of thoughts break rule 2.