Tag Archives: chicago

looking at marina city

8 Dec

Wilco's iconic album cover borrows from Bertrand Goldberg's iconic towers

Since becoming an editor at a building-and-design magazine, I’ve grown fond of architecture. It’s all around me. On my screen, in my hands, out my window. Hard to live in a place like Chicago and not appreciate things ornament, engineering, and bridge design. It’s one of our proudest exports, our architecture. And since my day deals in urban infill and LEED certification, I’ve grown especially aware of the built environment I move in and out of each day.

Earlier this week, I was walking along the Chicago River to give my eyes a rest from the monitor and eventually came to Marina City, the most iconic riverfront structure we have. If you don’t know it by name, you at least know it from the cover of Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot. The twin towers hover over the water, boats parked in their empty bellies.

In spite of feeling outdated, their repetition always mesmerizes me. This fall, two photographers exhibited a show called Inside Marina City and answered a question most Chicagoans have asked themselves at some point: what is it like up there?

Mostly terrible, seemed to be the answer. It wasn’t anything like what I imagined. From the inside, the building looked even older than it did from the outside. The rooms were washed out and faded, and so were the people in them. >

"Horns," from Inside Marina City by Andreas E.G. Larsson and Iker Gil

"Yellow Kitchen," Inside Marina City

"Lady in Red," Inside Marina City

On my walk, I thought about those photographs, about how I couldn’t decide if they unspooled the myth or added to it. I thought about writing this very post, but decided against it. Everyone knows Marina City. Everyone knows Yankee Hotel Foxtrot.

But then today, Gapers Block linked to a short film called Covers by Luis Urcolo, and it was a wonderfully simple concept cleanly executed. Got me thinking about all this again, especially once it reached the four-minute mark. I’d say more, but it’s better if you just watch it. Everything should make sense soon enough.

evolution of an album

2 Dec

When the Go tour came to Chicago

There’s a new bite to the air now each day I walk to work. I warm myself with a fresh music selection. Every so often I wipe my iPod, deleting both the albums I haven’t touched in months as well as those I’m in danger of wearing out too quickly. I have to keep myself from ruining the things I love. It takes sometimes an entire night to make the transfer, removing large blocks of electro-pop, indie rock, and jazz and then handpicking things from my computer that I’d somehow nearly forgotten about. Go was one such thing. Continue reading

modest millionaires

10 Nov

I think we can learn a lot from this couple.

They recently won the Illinois Lottery, but have yet to tell friends, family or even their children. The couple plan to keep their jobs—he runs a small business—and raise their children with a strong work ethic by keeping secret their loaded bank account.

buying umbrellas in the rain

3 Nov

Part of me can’t help but think there’s as big a difference between the bottom one percent and the middle class as is there is between the middle class and the top one percent.

I’m soaked. My hands are red from the wind and I can’t feel my fingers. The rain is a sheen on the black coats that surround me. Water dripping from briefcases and hat brims. It’s only been two days since Bad As Me officially came out, but I’ve been listening to it nonstop. It’s a perfect morning for it. Tom says that everybody knows umbrellas cost more in the rain. Today that feels truer than ever. Continue reading

in rotation

2 Nov

Professor Longhair

My favorite section of the Chicago Reader is In Rotation, one of those things where a music critic writes about his or her favorite three things, then passes the assignment on to some other small-time celebrity, who then finds one more person.

This past week I read about the definitive version of Professor Longhair’s New Orleans parade song, “Big Chief,” New Belgium’s Clutch beer (named for the band from Germantown, Maryland), the bizarre work of modern composer and architect Iannis Xenakis, and alleged revivals in psych-rock and goth.

It’s always like this, obscure stuff I usually haven’t heard of—and probably don’t care much about—but somehow it’s enjoyable anyway. Probably the lack of fanfare. Each item is just fifty words long, too short to make many claims. The brevity makes it easy to digest as well as more compelling, free from swampy contexts.

It’s the opposite of what I usually advocate for, and maybe that’s why I like it so much. Nine musical experiences from three different folks, all before the next train stop. It’s a nice way to keep in touch.

calm like rahm

31 Oct

It’s a celebrity-filled Halloween. In addition to the mention of Ryan Gosling’s Dead Man Bones, I ran across this photo, posted to the Chicago Mayor’s Office’s Facebook page on Saturday.

Rahm remains calm as zombies invade Chicago

The zombies outside the train are an incredible touch.

kids today

27 Oct

At Namaste Charter School, officials this year spent $23,000 for a “recess coach,” a modern-day schoolyard referee tasked with keeping fights and bullying to a minimum while also teaching games that could be unfamiliar to today’s schoolchildren—games like four square, tag and dodgeball.

I will grant you that kids growing up in North Lawndale may not know how to play four square. But tag? Do kids today really not understand the concept of chasing one another willy-nilly around a loosely defined open space?

This hardly believable reality might be explained by the fact that it’s been thirty years since Chicago Public Schools had recess.

an (im)possible spectacle

23 Sep

I’ve mentioned Alexander Trevi’s (Im)possible Chicago project before. But #28 is worth checking out. Usually more apocalyptic, or at least dramatic, this installment just conjures the oddest images. It’s also refreshing to see someone talking about the homeless population with some creativity and humor, rather than the shameful mousiness we’re all used to.

Once considered a nuisance, now the homeless in their ghillie suits are welcomed ornamental additions to the city’s public spaces. … Before when they came together to commiserate, they were loitering; now it’s a pop-up Versailles.

The new seasonal dress code for Chicago's homeless in Trevi's (Im)possible Chicago

ground control to colonel ron

17 Aug

If there’s one nice thing about cameras that no longer require a tripod and copper plates and Chevalier lenses (see: daguerreotype), it’s that an astronaut from Chicago can snap a quick photo of his home as he zooms past on the International Space Station.

[Thanks to Gapers Block for posting Colonel Ron Garan’s photos yesterday.]

tilt-shift routine

11 Aug

We are understandably amazed when something fake is made to appear real, but I’m equally in awe of what has been done here: taking something real and making it appear fake:


The video is an example of tilt-shift photography.