Headline of the day: 2 charged in fight at Friends Cafe

2 charged in fight at Friends Cafe
Tribune staff report
May 8, 2009

Two men were each charged with battery after allegedly fighting each other with knives and nunchaku in the parking lot of the Friends Cafe hookah bar in the 11000 block of Harlem Avenue.


More like White Sux!

Explain this.
The Cubs' average ticket price of $47.75 ranks third in the majors, behind the Yankees (whose average ticket jumps to $72.97 from $41.40 with the new stadium) and the Red Sox ($48.80). The White Sox are fifth at $32.28.
Okay, the figure for the Yankees is obviously ridiculous, and no doubt it will fall substantially once they realize all those ultra-rich investment bankers whose luxury boxes were distorting the average price aren't, for some reason, showing up to the games as often as expected. But what I want to focus on is the White Sox. At Yankee Stadium, Fenway, and Wrigley, you get to see top-notch teams playing in incredible ballparks. Here on the South Side you get to see a mediocre team in arguably the worst stadium in baseball, which unlike the others is surrounded by a wasteland of parking lots.

Now I happen to agree with Obama on the following (and this exchange is still the best thing I've seen him say to date):
Obama, a Southsider, was asked by ESPN's Stuart Scott what would happen if both the Cubs and the White Sox made it to the World Series.

"I would be going," Obama said.

"Who would you root for?" Scott asked.

"Oh, that's easy," Obama replied. "White Sox.

"I'm not one of these fair weather fans," the junior senator from Illinois and presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party explained. "You go to Wrigley Field, you have a beer, beautiful people up there. People aren't watching the game. It's not serious. White Sox, that's baseball. Southside."
And the longer I live on the South Side, the more my hatred of the White Sox fades. Plus, unlike the Yankees, Red Sox, and Cubs, the White Sox sell veggie dogs (altho they're pretty pathetic veggie dogs, unlike in, say, SF). Maybe if they tore down those parking lots and replaced them with bars and restaurants, the experience of going to Comiskey wouldn't be so alienating. But until then it's sad that the nearest ballpark is not only my least favorite to visit, but it's also among the most expensive in baseball.


Chinese vegetarian mystery

How can we account for this? Philadelphia is half as big as Chicago, and not known for its vegetarianism. Yet Philadelphia has five - five! - all-vegetarian Chinese restaurants, and Chicago has none.

Su Xing 1508 Sansom St
Singapore Kosher Vegetarian 1006 Race St
Kingdom of Vegetarians 129 N 11th St
New Harmony 135 N 9th St
Cherry Street Vegetarian 1010 Cherry St

Chicago does have Yummy Yummy in Lakeview, a Chinese restaurant with both meat and fake meat American Chinese dishes, but here again Philadelphia beats us - it has two similar restaurants.

Charles Plaza 234-6 N 10th St
Golden Empress Garden 610 S 5th St

Granted, all of these restaurants are American Chinese, a pale imitation of the incredible fake meat restaurants in China. But this is an issue of respect. C'mon Chicago, get your act together.


Chicago streets 2: The obscure western reaches

Every good Chicagoan knows exactly what this means: Halsted, Racine, Ashland, Damen, Western, Kedzie, and they can give you the number for each one. But after that things start to get a little fuzzy. Sure, a lot of people know that 4000 W is Pulaski, and 4800 W is Cicero, but most of us are hard pressed to name the rest.

For starters, 3600 W is Central Park - which is what Garfield Park, which it runs thru, used to be called. 6000 W is Austin, the western boundary of the neighborhood of the same name, which used to be a separate town that dominated Cicero Township until the other towns in the Township won an election to eject Austin (against its citizens' wishes) from Cicero and annex it to Chicago.

5600 W is Central, which is central to nothing at all. 6800 W is Oak Park, which keeps its name when it leaves Chicago and enters Oak Park. (What is it with cities around here naming their own streets after themselves?) 7200 W is Harlem, and I cannot explain why all the white folks living out there would have picked that particular name.

4400 W is Kostner, part of a mile of streets between Pulaski and Cicero that nearly all start with the letter K. This is the eleventh mile from the Indiana border, and K is the eleventh letter of the alphabet. The pattern continues with the twelfth mile named exclusively beginning with the letter L, which explains 5200 W, Laramie. The "M" mile breaks the pattern to retain Austin, but the "N" mile resumes it by starting with Narragansett (6400 W). Following that we have Oriole (7600 W) and Pacific (8000 W). The city stopped expanding just in time, ending the regular street grid at Cumberland (8400 W). Another mile further and they would have had to figure out a whole lot of "Q" names for streets.

Here's the full list in order:
4000 W Pulaski
4400 W Kostner
4800 W Cicero
5200 W Laramie
5600 W Central
6000 W Austin
6400 W Narragansett
6800 W Oak Park
7200 W Harlem
7600 W Oriole
8000 W Pacific
8400 W Cumberland


Chicago streets 1: The mystery of the South Side

Everyone knows that Chicago streets are numbered and every eight blocks is a mile. (Incidentally, the system was introduced only in 1908, before which there was street numbering chaos.) On the North Side you just have to memorize the numbering - Division is 1200, Lawrence is 4800, etc. But on the South Side, all east-west streets are named after their number, with a couple exceptions like Roosevelt and Garfield. You would expect the main streets to fall on the fours since there's a main street every half-mile. But as anyone who's taken the Red or Green Lines knows, the main streets instead land on places like 47th, 63rd, 87th, 111th.

The problem is not that the South Side has forsaken the principle of a main street every half-mile. It's that South Side streets near the Loop were already numbered when the street numbering reform went thru in 1908, and they didn't match up exactly with the new system. Instead of renumbering those streets, they were left as is, while the newer parts of the South Side were integrated into the 800-to-a-mile system.

Roosevelt (1200 S) is actually one mile south of Madison (1 N/S), Cermak (2200 S) is two miles south, and 31st (3100 S) is three miles south. After that the regular system resumes, which is why the main streets then follow regularly: 39th, 43rd, 47th, 51st, 55th, etc.


Best of 2008

1) Being in the same city as my girlfriend for a majority of the year.

2) Spending the summer reading Capital and Marxian theory.

3) Coming up with something like a dissertation topic, and taking satisfying grad classes.

4) Exploring Tokyo and Osaka, and Hiroshima, Nagoya, and Kobe. Kyoto was okay too.

5) Excursions to New York, San Francisco, Philly, DC.

6) Seeing incredible movies on the screen, many at historic theaters: There Will Be Blood, «色戒» (Lust, Caution), Броненосец «Потёмкин» (Battleship Potemkin), Touch of Evil, Vertigo, King Kong (1933), The Godfather.

7) Biking around Boston and environs.

8) Return to organizing.

9) Baseball! First trips to the original Yankee Stadium and Nationals Park (DC), return trips to two of the best newer parks, Citizens Bank Park (Philly) and AT&T Park (SF). Plus almost constant access to games on MLB's web service before leaving the country.

10) Living in Chicago again.


Whoa, Portuguese is messed up

I thought I'd look up how to pronounce Rio de Janeiro since I've been saying it lately when talking about the 2016 Olympics candidate cities. But it turns out that Portuguese pronunciation (at least in Rio itself) is so bizarre that if I said it correctly no one would understand what I was talking about. IPA from Wikipedia: [ˈhiu dʒi ʒʌˈnejɾu] (the footnote has variant Brazilian pronunciations, some of which are closer to the Anglicization). So it's something like "hew ji zhaneru". You can hear it spoken here.