Look out, Dairy Queen. ‚ Lots of restaurants are now making their own soft serve; I just had an olive oil version last week at The Purple Pig, and since it opened, Belly Shack has had a beguiling vanilla (with a hint of coconut) topped by caramel sauce and an aromatic shaving of Saigon cinnamon. This stuff is so good, I don't need to wait until warm weather to dig in. The chocolate-bacon is a close second, but after you try the caramel cinnamon, you'll never look at soft serve quite the same way again.
Aug. 10, 2010
Aug. 10, 2010
I’m off getting married and honeymooning and all that so, in my absence, some good friends are filling in. Today’s look at Palm Springs comes from Kemi Adeyemi.
There are plenty of things to say about LA when comparing it to cities like Chicago: there’s too much driving, the buildings are ugly, everybody’s fake, everybody looks fake, everybody’s trying to make it. And while for the most part these observations are true, the only thing truer is that Palm Springs is worse. It’s hotter, the people look crisper, they’ve already made it and look at you askew, knowing that you are just a transient.
When you leave LA you drive through the desert, past Windmill Alley and, eventually, on the horizon there comes an oasis. You see the palm trees and the fresh-paved roads and you can just feel the elderly vibe. It’s mad special.
Aug. 10, 2010
For several days now, I’ve been fixated–there is no other word for it–by the images of the late photographer Vivian Maier, a French-born woman who worked for years as a nanny, while leading a secret double-life as a street photographer.
You’ve never heard of Maier? Don’t feel badly. Nobody really knew about Maier’s work as a photographer until after her death in 2009 and Chicagoan John Maloof stumbled upon her medium format negatives and rolls of undeveloped film–a whopping 100,000 images–at an estate sale and decided to share them.
Maloof has posted scores of the images in a very fine blog that he often updates. Maier’s crisp black-and-white photographs capture a solemn Chicago: doyennes seemingly lost in an increasingly modern city; workaday folk walking and shopping beneath the script of neon; old men in shabby suits, hanging out on downtown street corners. She photographs Chicago at the same period as did posthumously- discovered amateur photographer Chuck Cushman, but Maier’s is more sober and thought-provoking.
Aug. 10, 2010
"You Are Not Alone" won't officially be released by Anti-Records until Sept. 14, but already it's one of the most anticipated discs of the year: a collaboration between Chicago treasure and soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples and Wilco bandleader Jeff Tweedy.
Aug. 10, 2010
Michael Phillips and Tony Scott
The longest running and most respected movie-review show in television history will tape its final broadcast today for airing this weekend. And when it's over, the imaginary balcony that Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert first opened in 1975 will be closed forever.
Aug. 9, 2010
A firefighter tragically fell to his death early this morning around 1 a.m. while battling a grease chute fire that broke out at Avec, a wine bar and restaurant in the West Loop. Chris Wheatley, 31, fell 35 feet while ascending a ladder on a fire escape and was rushed to John H. Stroger Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Time Out Chicago reports that Avec was not in violation of any codes, and that the restaurant is temporarily closed so that it can recover from the effects of the fire.
Aug. 9, 2010
Joanna and I meet in a north side coffee shop, an interview tip from a friend. I know only that she is a commodities trader, and so when she walks in fresh from the farmer’s market in an outfit more suited to a gardener than a financier, —All-American-style cute and quick to laugh—I’m immediately intrigued.
She’s telling me about changes at the commodities exchange, where she’s worked for seven years, since she was 19.
[In June of 2008,] Bear Stearns started to crumble and so the pattern of what works in that world, which had worked very well since the early ‘80s—the pattern of, you invest in things and it usually always works out—that was broken somehow in 2008. That stopped working as well.
I’m one of the younger people that’s doing this job. I’m surrounded by people that are in their 40’s and 50’s and have been doing it forever, and it’s been interesting to see their reaction. They’ve reacted a lot more strongly and I can see how hard it is for them to try to reinvent, to try to figure out these patterns again. It’s been palpable to see how that’s affected people. There’s been a lot of self-doubt.
What’s it like being surrounded by male peers around twice your age?
It’s hard. It’s empowering and feels limiting all at the same time. Most of the time I’m cocky enough to think that it’s a good thing and I don’t think I could have done this job for this long if I didn’t have that sort of mentality. But it’s almost frightening sometimes to think, There something that I’m missing here. Is there a reason that there isn’t anyone that’s my age that’s here? Is it because there’s no future here? Is it because it’s that difficult to get into? There are a lot of questions like that I wrestle with, but most of the time it feels pretty cool [laughs]. Most of the time it feels like, Wow, this is quite shocking that I’m here and that I can do this. I didn’t have any idea, when I walked in, what I was walking into.
The old-school guys that used to flash their hands in the pit—that’s who I am, the modern version of that. I have access to eighty exchanges globally, which means that a client can call me up and say, I want to trade the Singapore Stock Index versus the London Stock Index, and I can trade Chicago wheat versus Kansas City wheat versus Paris wheat versus the wheat that’s traded in Canada. So I facilitate trades when I can trade on an exchange.
Through that the modernization of the markets, rather than just being a broker that can trade one product, now we have access to all of those. Obviously, the more you can trade, that’s a better position to be in. So a client will call and say, I want to trade this market, and sometimes they’ll say, What do you think about that? Or, Knowing my style and what my position already is, how do you advise that? I’ll respond and say, OK, I think you should do this or do that, and then facilitate the transaction. Now that the markets are all electronic, I’m on a computer, so I have a bunch of different computer screens that I’m trading through electronic platforms. I’m in Chicago, so we have the fastest connectivity to the Chicago markets. It’s still sort of antiquated enough that you have to be close to the markets to actually trade as fast as you should be able to.
It’s also just part of the older version of trading, that you’d think you’d want to call somebody in Chicago to trade Chicago markets rather than somebody in London, because they know it better. They’re there, right? There is still some idea of proximity, and proximity is knowledge. I can trade London, but do I pay as much attention to the London interest rate market and what their central bank is doing as much as I do to the US? No not really. But I can trade it.
I read about the fundamentals of the market and commodity reports, crop reports and things like that. Stock analytics of different companies. Being a broker, you’re sort of an information gatherer, all the time. You have to be well informed.
I recently started reading about farm legislation. Through reading some of the agricultural reports about crop production and what was happening, I started reading a lot about Monsanto and GMOs* were effecting crop production. I spent some time thinking about the way that food is produced in the US, and through understanding that on a really global macro sense, I wanted to be more interested in how it happens locally. So then I started reading what happens with GMOs and what that’s doing to our farmland and what that’s doing to crop production. I started thinking about how I could be an advocate for that, as a person who’s totally involved in helping that market continue, which is a little bit of a catch-22.
It feels like a conflict for me. I don’t think that I’m going to be brokering when I’m 50, so part of what I’m doing right now is exploring other avenues in my life. Well, sometimes it feels like a conflict, but sometimes I think my personal role is not so grand for it to be a conflict except just for me, so the conflict is my own. My tiny universe isn’t as big as I sometimes think that it is. But it feels conflicting that I’m helping extremely large corporations make more money and manage their finances really well, and then not doing anything for all of the smaller farmers and the people that are being employed on those farms and things like that. When you start to talk about immigration and worker strikes and things like that you’re talking about large corporations, so it feels very conflicting that I only want to buy small, locally produced meat and I don’t want to drink soda and I want to help small farmers work together and sort of fight against big corporations. Then during the day, I’m helping those big corporations hedge their production, and I’m helping soda companies hedge their sugar-buying and things like that. That feels pretty conflicting to me.
*”GMO” stands for Genetically Modified Organisms, or genetically modified foods.
Aug. 9, 2010
Raise your hand if you were at Lollapalooza this weekend.
Wasn't it just fantastic?!
During one of the shows Saturday, with the Lollapalooza banner across the top of the stage, I noticed this about the first three syllables of the word:
LOL LA PAL
And doesn't that totally define what the festival is all about: Laughter! Music! Friends!
(Work with me here... I mean, I thought that was kinda cool. And I wonder if the concert promoters ever noticed that...)