Friday, August 31, 2007

Cubs Win

Last Night I went to a cubs game! Rebecca's Dad had bought tickets to see the Milwaukee Brewers play the Cubs @ Wrigley Field. One of the tickets was meant for Nate, but since he left the day before for a year in Vietnam I was asked to take his place...lucky for me. I've never been to Wrigley and all I really know is that tickets seem expensive. The game was good. People talk a lot about how horrible and stupid cub fans are and how bad people from LincolnPark etc are in general. I didn't really know what they meant until yesterday.
The guys who sat behind us spoke like they were at a frat party and they were 19 years old, talking about 'dem bitches, fucking shit, and real estate.'

They were so loud and so rude. Rebecca's dad said the only times there are ever fights in Milwaukee over baseball it inolves a cubs fan...nationally known for being heathens.

It isn't simply that they are rude, it was amazing seeing what a detailed culture they have. There are ritual standings, sittings, cries and songs the entire stadium sings. Watch this video made by Ira Glass about Lincoln Park culture. He made it for this American Life, and it aired on the radio...but I think the video is particularly frightening in this case. Let me know what you think.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

I'm in madison and there are SO MANY bikes. There are so many people don't even need to use locks, it would be like charging for water usage in Chicago.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Time Off

Can you imagine taking two years off. Instead of going to grad school you would just focus on cooking healthy food, reading, keeping your apartment clean, and increasing your ability to communicate thoughtfully and clearly through writing. This is kind of what I'm doing right now. It is hard, I walked by a bakery/cafe yesterday with a 'for hire' sign up and really wanted to apply. What would be the point? I do not need the money right is just hard to justify your existence or be alone with your thoughts all the time which is what inevitably happens when you have nothing you Have-To-Do.

Would reading a lot make me a better person? I think it would only sink in to a meaningful level if I took notes. My granddad just wrote me a letter. He finished a book I gave him, Devil in a White City. It is about Chicago in 1893 with the worlds fair, wraps up politics, progress and a serial killer in a sweet non-fiction tale that almost all the hipsters have read in Chicago. My granddad sent me a book report/thankyou letter. He always takes detailed notes when reading books, lists of characters, etc. He also writes letters a lot and keeps a diary he writes in everyday. He has typed his memoir. He does not get paid for his writing, but he does it anyway. I think he is what you would call a 'man of letters'.

This morning was kind of rough. I didn't drink any coffee or eat breakfast and I had trouble getting anything done. I went running and spent the day worried about the urinary tract infection I have had for the past 4 weeks. I always live with these things and try to ignore them, if I was a soldier trying to survive a war this might be a good tactic. I think it has spread to my kidneys. Drinking all the water and cranberry juice I can now will probably not help me.

I went back to bed which always feels like a defeat at 12:30 in the afternoon. Then I got up drank 2 cups of coffee and read a eulogy Howard Zinn wrote for Kurt Vonnegut which made me cry. Now I am ready for the day.

This is how the article began:
"Kurt Vonnegut, who died recently at eighty-four, liked to quote Eugene Debs, when Debs addressed the judge who sentenced him to ten years in prison for protesting U.S. entrance into the First World War: 'Your honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on Earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.' "

It makes me think about privilege?

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Bike!Bike! : return of the double title

I just got back from a long weekend in Pittsburgh where I learned a lot. For example, I did not even know that Pittsburgh had an 'h' at the end. I went to meet the call of "Bike!Bike!" annual meeting of community and collective bike projects from around the Americas (activists from Guatemala and Winnipeg were present). Bike!Bike! started after Hurricane Katrina when the NOLA bike collective decided they had to call on the resources of their sisters and brothers from around the country to build "plan-B"...maybe it is just a big hot bike party? or maybe a fixed gear masturbation circle? or maybe an excuse for dirty anarchists to act like they can actually get anything done?

All these things were suspected, but unclear from the safe haven of Chicago cycling...a city that has more bike programing than any other city in the USA (I happen to have keys to over 70% of the shops).

I got to go with three men I absolutely love to represent Chicago. I accidentally took the night bus with a bunch of suburb christian community bikelists. They were cultish, one had a baby I bet she didn't want, they had packed special food, planned to sit all together, kvetched that other people were rude, etc...I took a sleeping pill and the 11hour bus ride was fine by me.

For all my complaining about the suburban christian cult I must say they mildly saved me because upon arriving in Pittsburgh we were all ridiculously lost (the city planning makes little to no sense compared to the chicago grid). We all got a cab together, and I must admit I might have thanked "יַהְוֶה" aka Yahweh they took me under their also made me want to say more stuff in yiddish and wear lots of gold jewelry with stars of david and hebrew letter charms about health and wealth.

I had contacted the organziers of the conference earlier (3days earlier) and they had asked me to lead some of the conference workshops on youth programs and bikes! I may have presented myself as a bit of an expert..but holy smokes they believed me!

I worked with 2 other teachers (one from Cali and one from Phili) and we led presentations and discussions on how to work with kids and bikes. The bikers were confused as all hell. They thought because you know how to fix a bottom bracket you should be able to lead a group of kids from the projects through your shop no problem. They complained about everything from bikes being stolen, wrenches flying through the air into someone's head, to the plain belief that children simply are little monsters.

I like to think I kicked their hippy hipster anarchist asses by telling them they had to be fascists and that you have to be tough for kids to like you, punish them! It was hard for a lot of the gentle revolutionary hearts to handle, but I think they'll realize I'm right after having 20 bikes stolen and then finally calling the cops.

That said, the divide was split pretty evenly between hipsters, anarchists, and hippies. The crowd wasn't too stratified, I went to a diversity training, where the hottest thing said was one fool man who said he'd been accused of racism several times said he was oppressed by women and the fact that lunch was vegan and he was a meat eater. The best people there were the ones who work with kids more than they work with bikes...and everyone from Arizona seemed to be too fabulous for words.There was a Spandexxx party which I might have been to last year either in chicago or madison...the truth is the crowd was really nerdy and people really just wanted to talk about bikes, community, equity, and education. People had to get REALLY drunk to start the dancing. I left early because, as a serious dancer, I like to start tearing it up before my coordination is wreched...I also done my first ever alley cat race, which was ridiculously hilly and confusing, even though I came in 3rd for women (there were only three women in the race, even though I only did 2 of 6 check points I also happened to be staying with the girlfriend of the race I nepotized that prize).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Junior Ambassadors

This is who I've been working 'em

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Fast Foot Work

Chicago does have it's own dance style...a lot of them. My kids have fast feet, and have even made fast footwork bike safety presentations. Click the link above to see Dude 'n Nem's "watch my feet".

How many people outside of Chicago have heard of DJ Casper and the 'Cha Cha'? It gets played at every block party. I like the video. I think it is old fashion (do people really dress like that anymore?) and it's all shot in Chicago.

The end of Mass

Critical mass ended at the car spike last week. Some one's cell phone took this picture. I was at a wedding in Rochester when all the cars flew to heaven in the first step of the rapture. The cyclists were a little pissed, they thought they'd been doing everything right.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Eating Contest

This eating contest is for real, bacci pizza, home of the jumbo slice gives $2,500 to whoever wins. It is SO tempting to enter, I mean my job is ending and what do I have to loose? Everything, starting the competitive eating circuit would be like starting a less popular drug habit. I'll let you, gentle readers, figure that simile out on your own.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Chicago Beach Review

I'm a big fan of lists and putting things in order as in " I Like that and I Hate this".

So, here's a list of what one should do in Chicago in the Summer.

49th St beach-- a hidden alcove on the south side surrounded by boulders. Private, there's usually only one european lesbian couple bathing here. The water is smooth and clear, reminds me of Jamaica. You can actually swim laps here with out the bother of a life guard yelling at you...but there's still the convenience of a bathroom across the bike trail.
2nd Best: Loyola Beach (7700 North) --This is a beautiful haven, what I imagine devil's lake to be like. There's a beautiful view of the lake (not all views are the same) the water always seems glassy and I think I accidentally told my co-worker, Shanell that I thought it was what God looked like (the invisible line between water and sky). Not a tourist beach, there are older women who like to swim and people who like to read by the water and kids and Roger's Park is really diverse, one of the only places where black, latino, and white kids play together which is nice to be a part of. Heartland Cafe also has a beach side cafe, for what I like to consider hippy gourmet food by the sea (both of those are just wishful thinking on my part). 3rd Best: Foster Beach-- there are always a lot of people here just loving the beach and you are probably the only yuppie present. There are also mexican carts selling corn on the cob with mayo (don't knock it till you try it) and fresh mango, cucumber with chili and lime, elotes, etc.

Worst: North Avenue-- Frat/sorority party. Way too crowded. Found a big thing of poo floating in the water. Riding or walking on the trail here is super treachy (aka treacherous). Maybe it suffers from being too easily accessible.

In other news 3 of my 8 Junior Bicycling Ambassadors were jumped while at .... the grocery store!! They were on lunch break, went to the downtown grocery store, 7 strangers started beating on them in the face, stomping on them while they were on the pavement and then stole their bikes. Has this ever happened to you at Jewel-Osco? The whole time Shanell and I were wondering where they were and why they were late from lunch. Two hours later we got a call.