Comparative Architecture – Movie Theaters vs. Auto Showrooms

While I was working on a story  rumors that 5801 N. Greenwood – once an auto showroom – was originally a movie theater, I started to think a lot about expectations of architecture.  One of the theories behind the stories is that the building looks almost too grand to be just a garage, but Edgewater and Uptown are full of epic historic garages.   So here’s a few examples:  5801 vs some buildings that used to be movie theaters and then vs some other auto showrooms/garages.

architectural  comparisons - movie theaters

architectural comparisons - auto showrooms and garages

(5801 picture credit to Lyle Bright/Edgeville Buzz)

What do you think?

A Busy April Weekend

A few pics from my weekend adventures around the city

First, there was this weird theme to my Saturday afternoon:graffiti and sign about masturbation

Then I had the exciting realization that I would finally, finally be walking past Sprinkle’s Cupcake ATM.  I’ve wanted to go for years, but I’m never in the neighborhood

Cupcake ATM in ChicagoIt was fantastic!  How was your weekend?

Things the Internet Can Teach You About Yourself

Quote from a book - the lesson you need to know about the Shakers is that they all died out.

In case you were wondering, this is always the lesson. Also they invented the flat broom, the seed packet, and the three-legged stool. Additionally, this has nothing to do with this post AT ALL, but does show that I know a fair bit about the Shakers.

Because I am vain when I meet someone new who I think might google me, I google myself to see what comes up (after internet snooping on them of course).

I’ve worked pretty hard on my Google presence for the last couple of years.  Not because I had done something internet bad that I wanted to hide but because I unfortunately share my name with a woman who was murdered by her husband several years ago.  While I don’t think people will confuse the two of us, it seemed like a prudent move to try to kick the story off the first search page.

A few things I realized/was surprised by in my most recent google-though:

  • While I definitely dominate “Kathryn McLellan”  (sorry other Kathryns!), I lose out on “Kat McLellan” to another Kat, one who unfortunately was a grad student at UIC, also interested in women’s studies and material culture.  She seems pretty cool but this is actually potentially confusion-making.  Sadly, although I go by Kat, I’m thinking I probably need to give up on that one and use Kathryn for all my public online crap.
  • Another issue is that this blog doesn’t show up under my name at all. While I’m not always the proudest of this thing – particularly my inability to hit the publish button on anything – that seems like an oversight.
  • I really, really, really need to update my poor website.
  • The most pleasing realization is that one of my professors in grad school credited some of my work in a footnote in his book (!!!!) This is, sadly, probably my biggest academic “professional” accomplishment.

They Put Their Money Where Their Mouth Was.

Enough poster in Chicago window saying Republicans are racist

Seen in the same apartment.picture of a Chicago I voted slip in a window

For more on Chicago politics, see Vote Hardcore and All Awesome-Like.

New Orleans Graffiti

New Orelans was amazing…. and also a little hellish, but that’s what I get for going someplace in a high-tourist season.

My favorite thing was to just wander around and look at the architecture….and the grafitti. I love grafitti, not the kind that’s this is my gang area or Leroy was here, but the unexpected bit of art kind.

Warehouse covered in graffiti in New Orleans at Elysian  Fields and Charrtres

There was a ton of fantastic graffiti in New Orleans. Notably, the historic houses were mainly clear, artists, even taggers, saved their efforts for sidewalks, signs, and abandoned buildings, which I really appreciate. I think it showed a lot of respect for the area. Another sign of respect? People didn’t grafiti over each other’s art.

I fell in love with these koi on the ground by Jeremy Nova – particularly with editorial comments.Grafitti koi by Jeremy Nova with children's editorial comments.  New Orleans.

I also loved these footprints also by Nova.

Bootprint sidewalk grafitti by Jermy Nova, New Orleans.

Being in New Orleans made me realize how much I love art on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are so boring. Speaking of unexpected sidewalk art.

Spray-style sidewalk grafitti on Chartres between Montegut and Clouet.

Being in New Orleans made me realize how much I love art on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are so boring. Speaking of unexpected sidewalk art.

What’s Your Architectural Guilty Pleasure?

Picture of Ohio House Motel in Chicago

This is one of the reasons why I love Chicago so much. In most places land this close to downtown would be too valuable for a dinky 1960s motel, but not Chicago!

I know it’s a bit of a embarrassment to admit, but I do like the awful 60s and 70s architecture around Chicago in small quantities.

Making a Vacation To-Do List.

As you read this, I have probably started my world-wind 72-hour trip to New Orleans, stock full of things that I am super super excited about. I get a lot of comments on my travel-fu, so I thought it was only time to share my process.

First, if you know nothing about your location, look it up on Wikipedia or other basic knowledge-providers. It’s weirdly helpful to know the basics of what you should be excited for. It’s even helpful if you think you’re in the know; anyone trying to plan a trip to Chicago based on reading The Jungle will be severely disappointed.

After that, there’s a few websites I like to hit: Atlas Obscura, Roadside America, the Lonely Planet, weirdly Yelp, and even Pinterest. At that point I’m just brainstorming ideas and places to explore more thoroughly.   This is a great time to also Google for things you’re generally obsessed with; for me that’s vending machines, which lead me to the Musée Mécanique in San Francisco.

There’s also knowing what you like. I, for example, am not a huge fan of tours, but some people really love them. Meanwhile, I love window-shopping weird stores – it feels almost like a free art gallery – but a lot of my friends do not (until they end up in the store full of fossils or a candy store demonstration using 100 year old molds).

There’s also asking people you know or even asking people you don’t know. One of my best travel suggestions was given by the owners of an Irish knitwear booth at the Kriskrindlemart (a German Christmas market in Chicago). You may get a lot of suggestions that are eye-roll-worthy, but it’s a good way to find new things to do. I also like taking out travel guides out of the library for the same reason.

Urban Bourbon Trail Passport from Louisville, KY Tourist BoardDon’t automatically rule out the super touristy. Sometimes things are popular for a reason – the Art Institute in Chicago – other times they can be fun in a kitschy way. When we went to Louisville last summer we did the tourism board’s Urban Bourbon Trail. Go to five bourbon heavy bars, get the world’s most elaborate “passport” stamped at each, get a free t-shirt and certificate, and get to keep the overly fancy passport. On the other hand, do not just do the tourist. No one will be impressed with your trip, it will be overpriced, crowded no-matter the time of year, and it’ll weirdly feel just like being a tourist anywhere else.

Now that you have your list, it’s time to prioritize. It can be as simple as jotting a few things on a post-it or as complicated as… well… this:

spreadsheet(in my defense, my travel buddy did the color coding).

It helps to know what’s near what else and to make sure you don’t forget that one thing or two that you really really want to do. However, don’t over plan either. I’ve gone that route and it almost never works out. There’s always a random street that needs walking down, an emergency coffee or beer stop to make, or, sadly, transit problems.

My goals for New Orleans? Bars like the Carousel and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop; beignets, proto-tiki (?) and Cajun food; the ‘tit Rex and Chewbaccus parades; the Pharmacy museum, architecture, and cemeteries; and plenty of wandering around enjoying the 40+ temperature bounce I’m about to enjoy.