mm431: My kind of town

July 6, 2008

mm431a

MUDGE’s Musings

The four-day holiday-anniversary weekend was consigned to the status of staycation, due to … well, pick one: gas prices, economic malaise, inertia.

Fortunately, staying put doesn’t mean that tourism and sightseeing opportunities are lacking.

The summer season in Chicago offers a variety of ways to spend a week, a weekend or even an afternoon. This is not a tourism site, so we won’t dwell on all of the possibilities, which include the Cubs, the White Sox, the Museum Campus, the Art Institute, the wonderful again Museum of Science and Industry, Millennium Park and its free Grant Park Music Festival, and special events such as the ending today gorge-fest, Taste of Chicago.

For many years, the non-profit Chicago Architecture Foundation has offered a variety of resources: tours, lectures and a museum. Chicago has always taken its architecture seriously, especially its breathtaking skyscrapers; Chicago considers itself the birthplace of the skyscraper. For a long time, until the world’s economic center of gravity began its shift away from the U.S. to Asia and the Middle East, Chicago’s Sears Tower was the tallest such structure anywhere.

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mm402: Brigadoon year for the Cubs?

June 6, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© doesn’t touch on issues in the world of sports that often.

But today I feel compelled.

I’ve spent all week sleep deprived, as the Chicago Cubs have been playing games on the West Coast, and those don’t begin until 9:05pm Central time. And the way baseball is played these days, only one of the past four night’s games has ended before midnight my time.

So, baseball has been on my mind.

They’re playing the Los Angeles Dodgers this weekend. L.A. is the home of my daughter and her family: my son-in-law, and my two grandchildren.

My 7-1/2 year old grandson lived in Chicago for the first four years of his life, and somehow caught Cubs fan-itis, following the team on TV when available (and his mom and dad say it’s okay) and on line.

Last time we were together, he showed me how he logs into MLB.com on his Mom’s Macbook to get the latest scores and stats, and he grabs the L.A. Times sports section first thing to study the box scores. And his interest and enthusiasm, especially for all things Cubs, re-ignited mine. It doesn’t hurt that they’re off to a terrific start this season.

As I reflected on baseball, an enthusiasm that waxes and wanes for me, but which was a lifelong enthusiasm of my father, and which my older son inherited, and now, apparently, my grandson, I had this thought.

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mm381: Crime’s up. Economy’s down. Next question?

May 16, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Driving earlier this evening to pick up take out for dinner, found myself listening to radio news. Never do that, if I can help it. But this story sprang out at me.

It’s a crime story. Not usually a staple of this nanocorner of the ‘Sphere©. And it’s our next installment in a ever-lengthening series.

“May you live in interesting times”

mm380: The return of cheap gasoline
mm370: How can you tell our president is lying?
mm347: It’s official, we’re depressed — er, recessed
mm344: Welcome to interesting times
mm337: Dare we trust the guys who got us into this mess?
mm335: Are you prepared for interesting times?
mm334: Rearranging deck chairs
mm333: “Great people shouldn’t have a resume”
mm331: Obama at Cooper Union: Lincoln?
mm328: Today’s economics lesson: Depression 101
mm309: The news Bush really hates you to hear
mm289: Recession: Paying the price for our power
mm285: Mayor Mike tells some hard truths
mm263: This man -so- wants to pull the trigger…
mm257: The R-Word – Not that racy television show
mm256: I don’t hate big corporations, either

“Hold on, Mudge,” I hear faithful reader protesting. “What the devil does crime have to do with our deepening recession.”

Just about everything.

chitrib

City crime statistics show increased violence

Violent crime is up 6% in first four months of the year compared with 2007, police say

By Angela Rozas | Tribune reporter |

4:52 PM CDT, May 16, 2008

Homicides in Chicago rose by almost 9 percent, while violent crime was up more than 6 percent in the first four months of 2008, compared with the same period last year, Police Supt. Jody Weis said Friday.

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mm366: Blast from the Past! No. 17

May 1, 2008

There’s most read, and then there’s favorite. This is a post which yr (justifiably) humble svt is, regrettably, but not regretfully, not at all humble about.

lhc250x46_thumb2

Blast from the Past!

A post we really, really loved to write, and read, and re-read…

From our early days, originally posted August 15, 2007.

mm102: Fast Cities 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

I’ve always been a city guy, happier (even in its suburbs) than when away in some rural village, or bucolic resort. In fact, some would call my suburban home town more of a city than a suburb, and that’s just the way I love it.

And, I’ve always been secure in the knowledge that, no matter at what altitude and attitude I find myself on this breathtaking roller-coaster that is my life, I can count on my city to, eventually, provide me a livelihood. There’s just too much going on not to.

And during some extended times of un- or underemployment it was a matter of adjusting my own assumptions — the city was creating jobs every second, and I finally came to understand that I had to recreate myself to match up to one.

So, even while my faith in my home town has never wavered, even while one emotional center of gravity has shifted 2,000 miles west, it’s fun to encounter some more objective analysis about why my city makes me stay, no matter what.

And that brings me to the following story, first encountered in hard copy form (which means I’m probably 2 months late — an Internet eternity — in discovering it). I call special attention to the following tidbit:

Worldwide, the pace of urbanization is only accelerating. This year, for the first time, more of the earth’s population will live in cities than in rural areas–a cool 3.2 billion, according to United Nations estimates.

Take a look at the top of the story here:

fastcompany_thumb

Fast Cities 2007

From Chicago to Shanghai, urban centers that are shaping our future.

From: Issue 117 | July 2007 | Page 90 | By: Andrew Park


You’re smart, young, newly graduated from a university with the whole world before you. You could settle in a small town with well-tended lawns, pancake suppers, and life on a human scale. Or you could truck it to the big city, with all its din and dog-eat-dog lunacy. Your choice?Fuhgedaboudit: There is no choice. For all the challenges cities face–congestion, crime, crumbling infrastructure, environmental decay, plus occasional issues with basic civility–they are still where jobs and youth gather, where energy begets even greater energy, where talent masses and collides. Worldwide, the pace of urbanization is only accelerating. This year, for the first time, more of the earth’s population will live in cities than in rural areas–a cool 3.2 billion, according to United Nations estimates. “In a world where we can now work anywhere, we’re tending to concentrate in fewer and fewer places,” says Carol Colletta, president of CEOs for Cities, an advocacy group. “Smart people are choosing to live near smart people.”

Read the rest of this entry »


mm340: Decline and fall: America’s midlife crisis

April 6, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Cleveland. Philadelphia. New York City. Chicago. Most egregiously, Detroit.

For more than 30 years, the overwhelming impression has taken hold that the old, big cities, the engines of the industrial might of this country for more than 150 years, are hollowed out shells.

Their manufacturing jobs fled first, to the suburbs and exurbs, then the non-union South and West (before fleeing totally offshore). Their office jobs disappeared as the bureaucracy supporting those factories inevitably shifted: first to the suburbs, then the exurbs, then South and West (soon, Mumbai and Bengaluru?).

So, accepted wisdom: big Eastern and Midwestern cities: in steep decline.

Now, Michael Gecan is here to alert us that, as far as he can see, the suburbs and exurbs that became the refuge of those who could flee their declining city homes, are built on sand and are about to experience their own fall.

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mm303: Boeing loses the big one

March 2, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Boeing Corporation is one of this country’s economic superstars. Through years of growth, organically and, as has been typical of the aerospace industry since the end of the Cold War, through acquisition, Boeing has become one of the top three defense contractors in the U.S.

Boeing competes globally with Airbus, the “upstart” European aerospace consortium, for the privilege of supplying the world’s airlines. In both roles, military and civil, Boeing has remained a shining exception to the cataclysmic conversion of the U.S. economy from manufacturing to not.

Boeing, long based where it began during World War I, in Seattle, unexpectedly transferred its corporate headquarters to Chicago, MUDGE’s home, so Boeing stories, always of interest to yr (justifiably) humble svt due to his lifelong fascination with all things aviation, now have a home town component.

Boeing, a hometown hero in several locales: Seattle, Wichita, St. Louis, Long Beach, and lately Chicago, took a hard hit Friday, when the U.S. Air Force announced that it lost its bid to furnish refueling tankers to its most bitter competitor, Airbus.

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mm272: What the devil time is it anyway?

February 1, 2008

MUDGE’S Musings

Does anybody really know what time it is? Does anybody really care?

[MUDGE is not especially a popular music fan in the conventional definition, but there are things that stick. Brass and woodwinds stick. And, after all, Chicago is home.]

In more and more parts of the world, time, specifically time zones, have become a political football.

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mm205: Let them eat: Green Alleys?

November 26, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Call me an environmentally shallow and sloppy reader, but somehow I’ve missed until now Chicago’s Green Alley initiative. Sloppy because I had to read about Chicago, MUDGE‘s home town after all, in the NYTimes!

nytimes

By SUSAN SAULNY

CHICAGO, Nov. 25 — If this were any other city, perhaps it would not matter what kind of roadway was underfoot in the back alleys around town. But with nearly 2,000 miles of small service streets bisecting blocks from the North Side to the South Side, Chicago is the alley capital of America. In its alleys, city officials say, it has the paved equivalent of five midsize airports.

Part of the landscape since the city began, the alleys, mostly home to garbage bins and garages, make for cleaner and less congested main streets. But Chicago’s distinction is not without disadvantages: Imagine having a duplicate set of streets, in miniature, to maintain that are prone to flooding and to dumping runoff into a strained sewer system.

What is an old, alley-laden city to do?

Chicago has decided to retrofit its alleys with environmentally sustainable road-building materials under its Green Alley initiative, something experts say is among the most ambitious public street makeover plans in the country. In a larger sense, the city is rethinking the way it paves things.

In a green alley, water is allowed to penetrate the soil through the pavement itself, which consists of the relatively new but little-used technology of permeable concrete or porous asphalt. Then the water, filtered through stone beds under the permeable surface layer, recharges the underground water table instead of ending up as polluted runoff in rivers and streams.

Some of that water may even end up back in Lake Michigan, from which Chicago takes a billion gallons a year.

“The question is, if you’ve got to resurface an alley anyway, can you make it do more for you?” said Janet Attarian, the project’s director.

Once upon a time, Chicago proudly characterized itself as “the city that works.” Haven’t seen that self-congratulatory slogan lately.

Why? A public school system, that despite some pockets of (mainly charter school) competency, leaves far too many of its students, yes, behind.

Why? A police department that, after years of rebuilding a professional reputation, has recently displayed some alarmingly “Dirty Harry” characteristics.

Why? A public transportation system forced to go begging annually to the state government to bail it out; this year, the state bucket has been missing in action. Draconian service cuts have been narrowly avoided, but the political machinations continue, and the needs of the public for affordable means to get to and from their jobs, is, as always, well down on the pols’ lists of  priorities.

Why? A surface street system whose signaling has seldom been updated since its installation in the 1950s; facilities that are routine in suburban systems such as traffic sensitive left-turn arrows for high volume intersections are the exception.

Why? A trash collection recycling program that was a joke from start to finish, and even the emperor finally had to acknowledge his “blue bag” nudity, and begin two decades late to put in place a realistic program.

Why? A steady stream of city officials and elected ones populating the state and federal prison systems, as “the city that works” basically worked for the politically connected, with kickbacks, sweetheart contracts and the like.

Why? A perfectly useful and manifestly convenient lakeside downtown airport that served corporate and private traffic for more than 50 years until, without input from the City Council or anyone else, construction equipment delivered stealthily destroyed its runway in favor of a park no one knew we needed, late one night!

But, thanks to Mrs. Mayor, we’ve got some grassy roofs, a zillion miles of decorative (if politically sourced) wrought iron fencing around public parks, including the late, lamented downtown airport, and a superficial green sensibility.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

In Miles of Alleys, Chicago Finds Its Next Environmental Frontier – New York Times

This curmudgeon is guessing that, at a minimum, the more than likely politically connected Green Alley contractor is charging the city a considerable premium over the proper rate for its more than likely monopoly status, and somebody deep in the administration is quietly supplementing his grandchildren’s college fund, or supporting his Gold Coast mistress. Green business is Chicago business as usual.

Hey, keep those trains and buses running, Chicago, or your Green Alleys will be serving miles of foreclosed, abandoned bungalows, as homeowners, unable to cheaply commute to their jobs, lose those jobs.

Talk about fiddling while Chicago burns!

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm102: Fast Cities 2007 | Fast Company

August 15, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

I’ve always been a city guy, happier (even in its suburbs) than when away in some rural village, or bucolic resort. In fact, some would call my suburban home town more of a city than a suburb, and that’s just the way I love it.

And, I’ve always been secure in the knowledge that, no matter at what altitude and attitude I find myself on this breathtaking roller-coaster that is my life, I can count on my city to, eventually, provide me a livelihood. There’s just too much going on not to.

And during some extended times of un- or underemployment it was a matter of adjusting my own assumptions — the city was creating jobs every second, and I finally came to understand that I had to recreate myself to match up to one.

So, even while my faith in my home town has never wavered, even while one emotional center of gravity has shifted 2,000 miles west, it’s fun to encounter some more objective analysis about why my city makes me stay, no matter what.

And that brings me to the following story, first encountered in hard copy form (which means I’m probably 2 months late — an Internet eternity — in discovering it). I call special attention to the following tidbit:

Worldwide, the pace of urbanization is only accelerating. This year, for the first time, more of the earth’s population will live in cities than in rural areas–a cool 3.2 billion, according to United Nations estimates.

Take a look at the top of the story here:

fastcompany

Fast Cities 2007

From Chicago to Shanghai, urban centers that are shaping our future.

From: Issue 117 | July 2007 | Page 90 | By: Andrew Park


You’re smart, young, newly graduated from a university with the whole world before you. You could settle in a small town with well-tended lawns, pancake suppers, and life on a human scale. Or you could truck it to the big city, with all its din and dog-eat-dog lunacy. Your choice?Fuhgedaboudit: There is no choice. For all the challenges cities face–congestion, crime, crumbling infrastructure, environmental decay, plus occasional issues with basic civility–they are still where jobs and youth gather, where energy begets even greater energy, where talent masses and collides. Worldwide, the pace of urbanization is only accelerating. This year, for the first time, more of the earth’s population will live in cities than in rural areas–a cool 3.2 billion, according to United Nations estimates. “In a world where we can now work anywhere, we’re tending to concentrate in fewer and fewer places,” says Carol Colletta, president of CEOs for Cities, an advocacy group. “Smart people are choosing to live near smart people.”

Of course, not all “urban agglomerations,” in the parlance of demographers, are created equal. Rapid growth has a way of laying bare the gap between cities that merely get bigger and those that actually flourish. For every Karachi, which is on pace to double its population every 20 years but mired in poverty and violence, there’s a Shanghai, the emerging creative engine for an entire continent. For every Havana, which looks pretty much the same as it did 40 years ago (except worse), there’s a Curitiba, which has spent 40 years mapping its extremely livable future. For every St. Louis, a spot as bland as a flat Bud Light, there’s a hip joint like Fort Collins, Colorado, a high-tech hub that’s also the microbrew capital of America.

In other words, there are winners in this battle for the future. We call them Fast Cities. They are cauldrons of creativity where the most important ideas and the organizations of tomorrow are centered. They attract the best and brightest. They are great places to work and live.

I’m not sure that people who know me would describe me as “fast,” but I live in one of Fast Company’s Fast Cities, so I must be, right?

The rest of this introductory article is linked just below; take a look, and explore their expanded lists. I was fascinated; hope you’ll be too.

[Per L-HC’s reformed process, please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Fast Cities 2007 | Printer-friendly version

I know lots of people who’ve toured China. They talk about the Great Wall, the Yellow River cruise, the Forbidden city, etc. But I’ve long said that the only part of immense China that remotely interests me is Shanghai — the Chinese Chicago. Of course, it is or will be soon more accurate to describe Chicago as the North American Shanghai!

Now, admit it, who among my reader have ever heard of Curitiba, Brazil, or even Chandigarh, India (everyone’s heard of Bengaluru — formerly Bangalore — but Chandigarh?)?

I still recall a stint during one of the low-altitude aspects of afore mentioned roller-coaster when I was a temp secretary in a corporate HR office, putting together a diversity presentation. BTW, that experience helped me understand that in corporate America, “temp” is a contraction of “contempt,” which of course is how temps are treated, mostly.

But I digress. The point I was going for is that as part of the diversity training, it was presented that in a list of the 10 most populous cities in the world, New York doesn’t make the cut. Cities mostly in Central Asia that I still haven’t really heard of since made the top 10 — I wonder if 12 more years of our global roller-coaster have changed that.

And after a little research, here’s an update. Seems that the diversity propaganda I helped spread might have bent the facts a bit to prove a point, because there’s NYC a strong No. 4, and not one of those dusty Central Asian megalapoli made the list.

topcities

It all depends on how the metropolitan areas are defined, I’m sure, but I’m glad to see that my town, Chicago (had you guessed?) made the top 27(!) in this list I found courtesy of that other search engine, Ask.com.

But of course, (she keeps telling me) size isn’t everything…

Anyway, I’m happy to live in a Fast City — no question that it has helped keep me gainfully employed (at least mostly), intrigued, inspired and manifestly not bored (and I hope not boring!) for almost six decades.

But, I’d sure like to see Shanghai. And, maybe Curitiba…

It’s it for now, thanks.

–MUDGE

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