SOTU: “Same-o, same-o; “We’re from Chicago.”

A Paul McKinely/Chicago Black Grassroots Response to SOTU or Same as he always was:

Chicago at a Glance

Everyone comes to Chicago.

When I take my lunch-time walks through Millennium Park I hear cacophony:  voices from foreign lands.  I hear Mandarin, Polish, German, Portuguese and Spanish –  a Bable of noise from everywhere.  And, everywhere I look there are cameras and iphones – e-devices capturing the moment to share with another.

Chciago 6-5-2013 025 -R1

The Grant Park Orchestra rehearses for its weekly concert at Wednesday noon under the Pritzker Music Pavilion.  Recently I  was lucky enough to listen to them rehearse the fourth movement of Shostakovich’s Fifth SymphonyAllegro Non Troppo. This is one of my favorite pieces of music. I had to stay.  I became enamored like the rest of the foreign gaggle.

(Did I mention Lurie Gardern shown in the bottom third of the photo that I had taken that day? Lurie Garden is a garden only a Dutchman could create. The stainless steel  waves of the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Music Pavilion appear just above the hedge. The “Bean” is off to the left of the pavilion and not shown.)

Chicago 6-5-2013 Lurie 1

Lurie Garden

Chicago 6-5-2013 Lurie 2

The Walk along Lurie Garden to the Modern Wing of the Chicago Art Institute

Chicago 6-5-2013 entrance to Lurie

The Entrance to Lurie Garden from the Great lawn and the Pritzker Music Pavilion

Chicago 6-5-2013 Pritzker Gehry Bandshell

Chicago 6-5-2013 Art Inst Piano Ramp

In Lurie Garden looking toward the Modern Wing of the Chicago Art Institute designed by Renzo Piano.  The half-tube ramp across the middle of the photo is the Piano-designed walkway connecting Millenium Park and the Art Institute.

(I work in one of the buildings in the background.)

All photos © Sally Paradise, 2013, All Rights Reserved

Chicago’s Top Cop Whines, Blames Sarah Palin

More of the same.  That’s what Chicago’s top cop Garry McCarthy wants ~ more gun control laws in the city that already has the most onerous gun laws in the nation, laws that do nothing to mitigate violence.

McCarthy must be a Democrat.  Democrats do the same thing over and over and expect a different result.  Well, isn’t that special?

He is also a Democrat because he blames others ~ in this case, Sarah Palin and gun-lobbyists ~ for not giving him his way, the Chicago Democrat Way.  Poor, poor baby.  McCarthy’s not doing his job and has to blame others for his lack of results.

What a whuss!

From the FOX News article Chicago’s top cop likens gun lobby’s influence to corruption:

“Facing a surging homicide rate and several headline-grabbing murders, Chicago’s top cop is taking aim at lobbyists who he says prevent politicians from implementing more gun control measures.”

and

“Garry McCarthy’s understanding of our Constitution barely qualifies him as a meter maid, never mind the chief of the nation’s third largest police department,” Illinois State Rifle Association Executive Director Richard Pearson said.

and

McCarthy told FoxNews.com he never advocated “getting rid of the Second Amendment.”  He said he was making the point that there is popular support for new gun control laws and that lobbyists are stopping elected officials from reflecting the will of the people.

“How is it [special interests] are controlling politicians?” he said. “How are they controlling elected officials? It’s not by popular vote

McCarthy in the past has blamed “government-sponsored racism” and Sarah Palin for Chicago’s gun violence. He has been outspoken in his opposition to handgun proliferation, telling a radio panel last month he equates fewer guns with improved public safety.

  

How is it that the ongoing popular support for owning guns and protecting oneself is not the will of the people?  In fact, the will of the people is expressly stated in the Second Amendment. 

God commanded:  “Thou shall not kill.  Yet, people still kill each other.

One would think that since the almighty God ‘passed’ an absolute law that people would harken to it and obey.  But no.  People are people. If you want to change people then you must change people’s hearts.  Passing stricter laws is ineffective. Nothing can supersede “Thou shall not kill.”

 And besides, this belief that government is the answer to a problem comes with its own caveat to hand over more power so as to fix the problem.  Chicago’s gun laws prove that government is not the answer and that power corrupts and/or makes one a whiner as the case may be.

 None of the gun laws enacted by Chicago politicians have done anything to stop the violence.  None of the pressure from anti-gun lobbyists has stopped the violence. The same people will go on marching in the streets demanding an answer and the same people will vote for Democrats.  And, it is the Democrats who pass more and more laws that do nothing except to raise your taxes. Keep voting for stupid.  Keep marching on behalf of stupid.

 “How is it [special interests] are controlling politicians?”  Garry, do you mean special interest groups like the Black Panthers?  Like Think Progress?  Like environmental groups? Like Chicago’s own Jesse Jackson Jr?  Like the Fraternal Order of Police lobbying in the media for a pay raise? Is this what you mean?

 Man up McCarthy.  Do your job.  Stop whining.  If you want to make a difference in people’s lives then be a leader not a whiner who hides behind a woman’s skirt.

Punxsutawney Phil Bites Back

CHICAGO:

Snowfall, 20-25″.

Winds reaching 60-70 MPH.

Chicago Public Schools are closed.

LSD is closed.

Travel bans are in effect.

Tonight: Wind chill to create temperatures of 25-35 degrees below zero.

Advised to stay home: Snow day. Pajamas. My car waiting for the gallant snow plow to arrive.

Not quite the Chicago blizzard of 1967. Not yet.

Mayor Daley is praying that he doesn’t see the shadow of Mayor Bilandic in a blizzard of Brrreaucracy!

The True Myth of Friendship

The True Myth of Friendship Part One: Lena

Friends come and ago. At least in my life they have. I moved away from my first friend and then later another friend moved away from me. Some friends were friends in my mind only: these three ‘friends’ had other plans for me. One friend left me when I decided to make a life change and another close friend died. Friendship has always meant more to me than any romantic relationship. Friendship meant people liked to be together and do things together, sharing their imaginations. And, friendship wasn’t loneliness.

1957. Lena is the first friend that I can recall. She lived downstairs just below my family’s apartment. Lena’s parent’s, both of them immigrant Swedes, were the landlords. The three story apartment/house was situated in the middle of a quiet block on Long Ave. in Chicago. Beside the house was a stretch of grass, a garage and a food garden. Lena’s parents tended the garden daily. I can still taste the tart garden fresh strawberry-rhubarb pies my mother made from scratch.

Lena, a couple of years older than me, was in second grade. I had just started kindergarten. We attended the same school, Lowe Elementary, not far from our home. We would walk together. Lena, as I recall, looked as if she had walked out of a Carl Larrson painting: golden-blond hair, rosy cheeks, blue eyes and a snow white complexion. It was usual at any given moment, apart from school and sleep, for me to head out the back door of our apartment onto the open porch. I would run down the noisy wooden stairs to the first landing and from there jump down to Lena’s porch floor. The impact was enough to let Lena know that I was ready to play. Through their screen door I could hear Lena tell her mom that she’d be on the back porch playing with me. Her mother would respond in Swedish. The smell of cardamom bread often followed Lena to the porch.

Being best friends meant that Lena and I spent a lot of time together playing house, playing doctor/patient or playing doctor/nurse. We also played baseball and kick ball along side the house. When we did, Lena’s mother would anxiously look out the kitchen window. Her mother was very concerned about the ball coming near her garden or a window. When we hit the ball too close to the dining room picture window, we were scolded in Swedish. In English, we were told to go find something to do, but “not here.”

Finding something to do in the neighborhood was easy. It wasn’t long before we found out that a group of us kids could unscrew the nearby fire hydrant cap. On very hot summer days we would open the hydrant and let the gushing yellow water cool our feet. The splashing and laughing would go on until fire trucks came whirring around the corner. Heavily dressed men with big open eyes and mouths would jump out of their trucks. They would chase after the rapidly scattering crowd of waders hoping to give each one of us a disciplinary talk. Escaping their clutches, Lena and I would run and hide on her back porch. Once there, we would play firemen and fire. It was a Curious George time in our lives.

Friendship with Lena was an easy give and take. Each of us could easily imagine characters we wanted to be when we grew up. We would often role play a mother and father situation. When we did, Lena would always choose to be the father. I was to be the mother. As designated mother, I was relegated to making supper and having things ready when “father” came home from work. I would stand on the back porch stirring imaginary stews on an imaginary stove (the porch bench). At some point, “father” would come home, walking through the screen door out onto the porch. “Father” would give me a hug and say “How was your day, honey?” In return, I would say, “The kids were terrible.” The days of our parent’s lives were enacted again and again until the time had come for my family to move.

Besides Lena, there were other friends, too, whose names I can’t recall. I do remember that I would often walk down Long Avenue to the busy West Chicago Avenue. I would go with a friend or by myself (I was six years old. In those days, parents were not afraid of letting their kids wander through the neighborhood. I don’t think, though, my mother would have approved of this if she knew.) On the Avenue, I would sometimes visit and sit in on the service at the Salvation Army Center for the homeless and the drunks. The Captain knew me as a regular. To him, I must have looked like a lowly street urchin from a Charles Dickens’ story.

I would also visit a deli just next door. The sights and smells (and conversations) would delight my senses. There, I could buy a huge kosher pickle for only 5 cents. After paying the owner of the deli, I would reach into the pickle barrel and pull out a pickle that had been floating at the top of the briny vinegar water. I would eat the whole pickle, puckering my lips from the sourness. This is a memory that is as sweet and sometimes as acerbic as the friendships I’ve had.

Recalling the day we left our Long Avenue apartment, I was a terribly sad when our car slowly pulled away. We waved goodbye to our many friends who were gathered on the side walk. There were moms and dads, tree house friends, kids on bikes, the ice cream truck guy and, of course, Lena. That night, I couldn’t hold back the tears as I lay in my new bedroom in the new house on a new block in a new unfinished subdivision. I thought of the gushing fire hydrant, of Lena, and of the back porch where we staged our make-believe lives. I wondered, too, as I lay in my bed: Would there be fire hydrants and friends on this new street? The next day I would meet Billy and Blackie dog.

*************

Part Two: Billy the Kid, Bill the Buddy…continued here.

‘Tis A Gift To Be Simple

In recent years I reduced the clutter of my life.  Some of this reduction is due to moving from a four bedroom home to a two bedroom apartment five years ago.  All lot of things went in the garbage when that happened. Since then I have continued to simplify my life even more and I am finding that I am gaining more peace in return.

I have a land phone line but I don’t use it.  I only use the DSL for my laptop.  I have a pay-per-go phone. This is much cheaper and simpler for me.  I don’t text or tweet.  I don’t own a Blackberry or an Ipod. I am tech savvy but I don’t need the bells and whistles.  If I have something to say you’ll be the first to know. (Should a Christian spend his money on phone bills and downloads?)

 I have an old boxy analog TV.  I don’t watch much TV anyway. There’s isn’t much to watch.  (I can’t believe what is shown on TV during the early evening hours when children are watching.) I have a DVD player in case a good movie is found to exist somewhere in the biosphere. (OK, I do like Princess Bride, Gladiator, Gran Torino, The Sound of Music, Fiddler on the Roof…)

 Financially:  I have a debit card and a very small limit credit card.  And cash. I pay my regular bills through an automated bill paying system and use cash for my weekly budget items.

 Emotionally:  I have thrown away sentimentality with most of its baggage.  The past holds nothing for me. Nothing.  I am presently a composite of everything good and bad that has happened in my life.  I don’t need to carry any baggage.  This is absolutely freeing for me (I stay away from people who want to throw me under their bus of anger.  I avoid those routes.).

 Spiritually:  as I have posted a while back, I remind myself of these three simple action items from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount:  When you fast…; when you pray…; when you give… These three activities combined in my daily life bring me closer to God, closer to my neighbor and closer to my true self in a very simple, uncomplicated way.

 One of the characteristics of God is Simplicity.  HE IS.

That’s Too Wicked!

Holy summer in the city! Hand me my parasol. Chicago is fried-egg-on-the-pavement hot.  Here are some beat-the-heat suggestions (and don’t forget to put your undies in the freezer):

The Eyes Have It

The phrase “The Men Who Stare Like Goats” came into my head yesterday morning and I am still wondering why.  I never did see the movie, the title of which holds the correct phrase.  Yet, this is how my mind works. And, usually by this time some occurrence comes alongside the enigmatic words to give them some context and relevance. But, nothing of any consequence has happened yet. I can only tell you of what happened yesterday as I headed home from work. 

Yesterday afternoon I found a single seat in the “upper deck” of the 5:04 West Line commuter.  From my perch I could look out over Chicago as the train headed west. At one point, not far from the station, the train stopped where it usually did.  Here incoming trains and outgoing trains wait on each other to pass.  While we waited another commuter train heading east came right up next to our train, on my side, and then passed by.  I could look directly across into the engineer’s cabin.  There, I saw the train’s engineer reading the Chicago Sun Times as the train was moving towards Ogilvie station, his eyes focused on the day’s events. I turned back to look into our coach to see if anyone else had seen the same thing and then I saw it:  staring. Four men sat ogling an attractive young woman. 

The woman sat in a single seat across the upper aisle from me.   A beautiful brunette, she wore a flowery silk dress with a slit on both sides and in front, a ‘V’ tucked in between two exclamation points. (My outfit was more of an “H”.  I received only perfunctory glances.)  This whole ‘business’ brings me back to my present free-association dilemma:  Men Who Stare Like Goats. I’ll have to wait and see what meanings today brings to the fore. Maybe, though, it is staring me in the face.

Monroe Harbor Midday

Thursday noon I walked along Chicago’s Monroe Harbor.  There, anchored sailboats bobbed on top of Lake Michigan’s rolling green-blue water.  It seemed that each boat’s mast had become a swinging pendulum of a winding-down metronome.  A chorus of bell sounds could be heard.  The boats’ block and tackle, loosely fitted, clanged and clinked against the mast with each back and forth of the boat.

 In Monroe Harbor there are sailboats with names like Trade Winds, Sea Odyssey II, Aquatics Synonymous and Blind Ambition. This quietly undulating waterfront scene provided the bottom half of my horizon. Above, the solid sun shone directly over my head like a much hoped-for halo, burning a hole into the cloudless cerulean sky.

 … I come here often during my lunch times.  I need the sights and sounds of sea and sky for my moorings