Friday, July 25, 2008

Chicago Police are perking up

I might have to eat my words from the old post last year when I ranted about the Chicago police speed-trapping retardedly easy/unfair sections of the city near the borders capitalizing on suburbanites getting in and out of the city through sections where 40+mpg would be perfectly safe and instead it's posted as a blood-boiling and completely unnecessary 20.

That having been said, I posted a list of things Chicago cops could do to actually improve traffic, and the report card that I came up with is surprisingly good. Here's the original list:

1: Busses that abruptly change lanes. Grade: B
This one has gotten a bit better, though I think it has something to do with fewer bus routes now that fuel is so expensive. Nonetheless, I haven't been nearly sideswiped in, oh a few months anyway.

2: Bicycle riders. Grade: D-
Worse than ever, though happily I saw right in front of me one idiot who cruised full speed out into the middle of four lanes of traffic get hit squarely by an oncoming car that had had a green light for at LEAST five seconds. It was a hard enough hit that it sounded like a regular car accident. Darwin will hopefully weed out the bad cyclists, just hopefully not with MY bumper.

3: Mail trucks and Medi-Cars that treat the right hand lane like a parking lot. Grade: A++
Fixed! I hardly ever see these anymore. I don't know how you managed this one, CPD, but thank you thank you thank you. It shaved something like five minutes off my commute each day.

4: Improperly timed traffic lights. Grade: D
I've noticed more of these lately, as well, weirdly. And still no one pulls over the douches that block the box in the on/off ramp at Fullerton to the outer Drive. If ever I wished my Volvo had .50 cal machineguns strapped to the top of it...

5: Badly apportioned speed limits. Grade: B-
Doesn't appear to have changed, but the CPD seems to have returned to something approaching sanity about enforcing them.

6: Few left turn arrows. Grade: A
Better. Not perfect, but definitely better. Not having people standing double-parked in the far right hand lane may have also added to this.

7: Pedestrians who cross the street against the "Don't Walk" sign, in between traffic stopped at a light, or right in the middle of oncoming traffic. Grade: F-
I fucking hate these morons. They all deserve the bone-crushing injury they're begging for. If you don't understand the difference between "Walk" and "Don't Walk" or the little white guy and the BIG ORANGE HAND, then you should not be allowed outdoors without a responsible adult. This is worse than ever with no signs of improvement. Get on it, CPD!

The real thing that made me think of all this, though, was that yesterday on the way home I saw (wonder of wonders!) some sort of minor bust going on in the shitbag Rogers Park neighborhood between Howard and Juneway on Sheridan Road. They had cuffed and were dragging away what looked like a drug-addled hooker in her mid-forties and three or four younger men. It occurred to me that I had never seen any police activity in that stretch of Sheridan Road, though it always gives me the slight creeps when I drive through it because some completely un-affiliated white guy motorist got gunned down there pumping gas by some gang members about a month and a half ago. I used to get gas there all the time, despite the overall roughness of the three or four blocks (panhandlers, druggies, insane people from the adult assisted living places, hookers, and poor young people).

And then this morning, on the way in, I saw a cop getting out of his car right there in the same neighborhood to check out what looked like an abandoned car parked along the street.

Well holy shit CPD, it almost looks like someone finally figured out you'd be worth a hell of a lot more than if you were posted along the cemetery road baiting people who just want to pass the slow immigrant cargo-vans who you've been patiently tailing at 10 miles an hour for the last 45 minutes.

Anyway, I don't mean to give the cops a hard time, but there's two points I wanted to make.

1) It's ironic that doing your job results in a celebratory blog entry from a law-abiding citizen.

2) THEY'RE DOING THEIR JOB! Yay! Seriously, though... yay!

Lego is my God now

And my son has discovered a newfound obsession with Legos. Daddy sits back, smiles fondly, and then dives in to help John create some truly excellent Duplo creations.

I am such a dork. But so help me if loving Legos is wrong I don't want to be right.

When was the last time anything made you this happy?

People bitch that they're expensive but let me tell you anything that keeps my little guy's attention for upwards of two hours you can pretty much name your price for.

New John pictures

I figured it's about time to post all the random stuff from my cell-phone I've taken over the last month or so. There's some good ones of John.

John gets a close-up.

John wearing my boonie.

John rocking my black sunglasses.

John and I played the glasses game in the car on the way home from the mall. This is him in his Bono shades.

This is just a picture of the skyline I took from the roof of my building during lunch. Nice view of Old Town.

Beth took these of John.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008


Here's a recent one of John, outside with Daddy on the front lawn in his pack'n'play.

His expression just about screams "ATTICA! ATTICA!", but this is literally the only way to keep him from running straight for the road and giving me a minor heart attack in the process.

Trips Part III: The Brookefield Zoo

I only got a couple of good pictures from this one, but this past weekend the three of us went to the Brookfield Zoo and saw, among other things, the Hamill Family Zoo Area, the yearling Polar Bear (who was indistinguishable from the adults), a huge brown bear that weighed about 1200 pounds, and the elephants.

Trips Part II: Galena

For my father-in-law's 70th birthday, the entire O'Malley family went to a gorgeous house on the property of the Eagle Ridge resort, just outside of Galena. Here's some pics from that trip:

The O'Malleys all gathered round the table for a rousing game of spider dominoes.

Nana reading John and Charlie a book.

The Galena falls, which looked to me as though they had been dynamited into the landscape to clear the way for the road on the opposite bank. You be the judge.

Eli and Charlie enjoying the view of the falls.

Charlie exploring.

John, looking strangely like one of the British royal family with this expression, takes it all in.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Couple of fun random pictures from my cellphone

This first one is a picture of John at Rosie's Gleuten-Free Bakery on Central Street where we were having breakfast about a week ago, playing alongside another young little fellow who happened to be wearing exactly the same outfit.

(Note: Despite the typical horrid pretentiousness of places that have "Gleuten-Free" in the title, this place served hands down the best French Toast I've ever had. By a mile. Think candied walnuts in a carmelized cane-sugar reduction with butter and fresh raspberry jam over real maple syrup. It was like eating four giant hot candybars for breakfast)

The other picture is one I took from the front window of our office. A film crew shot several scenes from the upcoming movie about John Dillinger (starring Johnny Depp, who appeared briefly across the street but we all missed). Right in front, parked in the spot that typically incurs either parking tickets or towing from anyone who dares park there, was a 1930's-style paddy waggon. There were about thirty antique cars in all present for the shoot and they were driving up and down our street in front of the suitably-old-looking Old Town townhouses where I work.

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Trips, Part 1: Len's Wedding

I'm only now just getting around to posting these because I've been on the road or super-busy most of the summer, so it's time to post all the pics. First up is the trip that I took by train to NY to see Len Nicholas get married.

The accommodations on the train were perfectly comfortable, including huge roomy seats and a very convenient AC outlet within easy reach of my seat. All I lacked was a good wireless internet connection, but hey...
The view from the train was lousy for the most part, though the sunrise over Cleveland was nice.

I stayed at Silverthought HQ in NY with my editor Paul, who can be seen below striking a very Hunter S. Thompson pose.
We stopped briefly at my Grandmothers' houses to surprise them, as well as my sister's house during which we managed to smash a glass tabletop and break one of my brother-in-law's pieces of handmade pottery rummaging around pointlessly for old shit in the basement. Feeling completely awful about this, and in classic Mark fashion, I bolted and left them to clean it up. (SORRY GUYS!)
We skidded to a halt in the middle of nowhere, where someone had turned the highway into a single lane mountain road with a stoplight over it. Paul's coffee cup kept rotating counterclockwise with the vibration from the road, causing us to dub it "the coffee coriolis effect".

We stopped along the way to eat breakfast at a place claiming to be the original "The Sub-Way." A local patiently explained to us that they were flustered by the advent of the national chain with the same name. Riiiight. Just give me my Toasted Italian.

Len's wedding was a very classy affair and his new wife seemed like a doll. Imagine the remaining guests' surprise when these two questionable types showed up and had the hutzpah to ask for more wine (which I'm happy to say the happy couple and maid of honor quietly hooked us up with).

Len's wedding, despite having a significant vibe of careful, somber, respectful planning, came off with two notable signs of the fun-loving jokester he is. The first being the fact that the bride's wedding recessional tune as they walked out seemed to be some classical variation on the Smurfs Theme, and this:

Legos. Yeah!

Friday, July 04, 2008

The one day a year that I hate living in Evanston

Evanston is a pretty cool place to live, especially the northernmost part of it along Central Street.

Except on the Fourth of July.

On the Fourth of July, the fucking parade goes right by our front window, and every douchebag on the north shore from Niles to Skokie comes in and stakes out a piece of the parkway up and down the street. On July first (because it's the earliest they're allowed by law to do it), they come with stakes and twine and folding chairs and injection-molded deck furniture and they leave it like so much trash on my front lawn, as if to say "this is my space to watch the parade on, and I don't give a shit if you pay %4,600 a year in taxes for your penalty-box sized first floor condo."

Well, you lawn-squatting douchebags, I DO care if you sit on my lawn, and now you're part of my sweet vengeance rant, like it or not.

Here are the idiots who thought it somehow appropriate to not just bring some lawn chairs but an ENTIRE SET OF BUFFET TABLES to sit at and swill cheap beer and yack on their cellphones. Who DOES this?

And it's not as if the parade much improved from there. First we have a firework that looks like an enormous penis:

Political groups trotting their agendas out as though they deserve a float. Among the worst of these was a bizarre "pro-life" float shaped like a giant stairway and gate to heaven, as well as the more low rent Indonesian-style Tuck-Tuck with a huge Kinko's banner that said "IMPEACH". And of course there was the usual endless procession of candidates for Alderman and Comptroller and (new this year) Recorder of Deeds. I got a Deed you can record, buddy...

And then there was a group of middle aged men with no discernable agenda whatsoever other than to slink down Central street in front of several thousand children wearing tutus and stuffed women's bras dancing provacatively. I'm sure I speak for most of Evanston when I scream WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE POINT OF THAT?

John, at the very least, got to see a long line of his favorite thing on earth: Fire trucks!

And he also got to see McGruff the Crime Dog, whom he understandably misidentified as "A beer!" (Bear)

Next year, Daddy pledges to bring several bears... er... beers, along, as well as to wait until the night before July 1st with about a roll and a half of rusty razorwire.