OUR LOCAL BUSINESS

The Pandemic Legacy

The sad fate of local businesses is shown everywhere in the neighborhood. For Rent, For Lease, and For Sale signs can be seen in abundance within a few blocks of where I live. Yes, some of these businesses had failed already or would have failed, but there have been no takers for their empty storefronts and buildings. The Wall Street Journal recently stated “200,000 U.S. establishments above historical levels” closed permanently in the first year of the pandemic.  Many needed help they could not get under the previous administration.

On a recent trip to a neighborhood supermarket, I took my camera for some pictures along Montrose Avenue for about a mile east and half a mile west of where I live. I also grabbed one around the corner on Kedzie. Even if you are not from our city, you may have encountered the loss of local business as well. The is a part of our pandemic legacy.

Click on any picture above to go through the full size of each one in the gallery. Be sure to stop at SERENDIPITY for more on “Our Pandemic Legacy.”

Source: “Covid-19’s Toll on U.S. Business? 200,000 Extra Closures in Pandemic’s First Year,” by Ruth Simon, The Wall Street Journal, wsj.com, April 16, 2021.
See also: “Our Pandemic Legacy,” What We Learned So Far, SERENDIPITY, teepee12.com, May 9, 2021.

WHAT TIME IS IT? – Rich Paschall

It might be hard to tell what month or day it is lately. We know it’s 2020 and that has not been good. And what about the time? Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is? Be sure to click on “View Original Post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for some musical thoughts on Time.

THE INTIMATE TOUR – Rich Paschall

We won’t be getting to see MAX or anyone else this year at venues large or small. Some of our favorite spots might not survive the long downtime. Meanwhile, we can recall some of our stops from the recent past. Below originally appeared on SERENDIPITY.  

MAX, A Review, by Rich Paschall

If you are in or near a big city like we are, you may have a number of outdoor stadiums where concerts are performed. We have concerts at Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Soldier Field (Bears). We have concerts in parks including the largest of the music Festivals, Lollapalooza (Grant Park). Outdoor music is a big thing here in the summer and you can catch every type of music from classical to Hip-Hop, jazz to blues, rock and roll to modern pop.

We also have indoor stadiums with concerts throughout the year. We have the Chicago Stadium (Bulls), UIC Pavillion (the University of Illinois at Chicago), Allstate Arena (AHL hockey), and others. You will not lack big-name performers in large venues.

There are also many smaller venues, clubs, and bars, that feature musical acts. They may range from places where 100 is a crowd, up to locations of several hundred. Earlier in the year, we caught David Archuleta in his Postcards in the Sky Tour at the City Winery. It is a spot that can have up to 300 for seating at small cocktail tables. The feeling is rather intimate compared to the large venues.

This spot would have been too large for Max Schneider’s The Intimate AF Tour. With Sirius XM as a sponsor, MAX set out to play in 15 big cities and very small venues. Aside from the intimate venue stops, MAX picked up a few other notable gigs along the way.

If you are unfamiliar with MAX, we mentioned him before in our young artists’ edition of “Christmas Yet To Come.”  At age 27, he may seem like an “overnight success” to some. He has a song on the radio charts and has been nominated as 2019 Best New Pop artist for the iHeartRadio Music Awards. He has also made some television and radio appearances promoting his latest single. It is all falling into place for the energetic performer.

Like many “breakout” performers, he has been at it for a while. He started performing at 3. He got an agent at age 14. He was an understudy on Broadway. He got a few TV acting jobs. One was in 25 episodes of the Nickelodeon show “How to Rock.” He won a part in the 2015 Brian Wilson biopic as the young Van Dyke Parks, an early writing partner of Wilson.

He did a lot of cover videos on YouTube. It is the way a lot of young performers have broken through in the business. His channel now has over 1.6 million subscribers. One of his earliest from 7 years ago is with a group of musicians who are playing their iPhone apps instead of instruments.

Fast forward to 2019 and the hard work at acting, dancing, and singing are paying off in a big way. By the time MAX hit Chicago on his tour of small bars and clubs, he had a performance lined up one afternoon at Lollapalooza. The 4-day event draws about 400,000 people. Most show up early for the all-day music festival over eight stages and across 115 acres on Chicago’s lakefront.  It’s Woodstock for the 21st Century. Some years we even accommodate with rain and mud. Fun fact: MAX is from Woodstock, New York.

The day after playing for tens of thousands in Grant Park, MAX played a small bar on the north side of Chicago. Schubas, once a Schlitz brewery, has a small room in the back of the bar that they claim will hold a MAXimum of 165. That’s without any table and chairs, just fans ready to rock.

A young rapper opened the show with a brief set. We will spare you the review. MAX followed and kicked things into high gear and left it there through most of the set. The small crowd was pressed up against the stage while a few of us older folks took to the bench that ran along one sidewall. From there I could stand on the bench from time to time to get a few pictures over the top of the crowd.

If you have been to concerts lately, you will notice a lot of backlighting, usually in shades of blue. It makes it hard to get good pictures or videos. Do you think they do that on purpose? This show saw a lot of light using yellow theater lighting gels. Yellow seems to be the theme for MAX at present.

Following a few successful days in the Windy City, MAX was off to a musical performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Along with some other TV and radio spots lately, MAX’s overnight success seems complete. He made a stop in June on the Today show, performing Love Me Less. Will he be the headliner instead of the opener someday soon? That of course is hard to say as show business is fickle. One thing we know, having seen MAX here before, he has paid his dues and is bringing the talent.

POSTCARDS IN THE SKY – Rich Paschall

I had a reservation to see David Archuleta again this year at City Winery. He was to come in April, but that was changed to the end of July. Now the performance is postponed indefinitely. He has a new album, Therapy Sessions, but this review is about the previous tour for Postcards in the Sky. Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for some good music.

AUTUMN LEAVES

While everything here remains mostly green, we have spied a few leaves drifting off the large trees in front and in back of the house. I hate to say it, but soon they will bury the lawn in various colors of Autumn that we will rake up and throw away. Since tomorrow is the first day of Autumn,  we find ourselves on the road to see things FALL.

“The falling leaves drift by the window
The autumn leaves of red and gold…”

The changing seasons may hold special memories for some.  Walking outside into a particular type of weather may evoke a particular moment.  It may unlock a time from your memory vault, either good or bad, that you can associate with the weather, the season, or maybe just a certain type of day.  Like the autumn leaves, visions of your life may fall all around you.

When the weather changes from summer to fall, the most predominant image to me is that of football.  No, I am not talking about sitting in front of a television on Saturday or Sunday to watch college of professional football.  I am talking about the in the park, touch football sort of memories I accrued over many years in Revere Park with many different friends as teammates and opponents.  Whatever hard feelings there may have been over certain games or with opposing players have now blown away like leaves being blown down the street by a fierce October wind.  Only good images remain.  I would be a liar if I denied that this time of year makes me yearn for an autumn that will never be repeated.  Since I can not go back to those days, I can only carry the memories forward into the winter of life.  Fortunately, they are good memories.

Football was always a favorite with me so there are other memories besides the “weekend warrior” kind.  There are the years as a football official for leagues of boys playing in that same park.  Although I enjoyed working other sports as well, nothing compared to running out onto the field, with college fight songs blasting over the park speakers, as we yelled at the youngsters to line up for the opening kick-off.  We worked these games in every type of weather, warm and windy days as well as cool and crisp afternoons.  We not only endured driving rains but even some late fall snows that coated the fields and reminded us that winter was lurking around some corner that we were about to turn.

Of course, there was plenty of time spent watching football on televisions with the giant 19 inch screen. I fell most in love with the professional game after reading the best seller by Green Bay Packer lineman Jerry KramerInstant Replay made famous some Packer linemen and their opponents on the line of scrimmage.  Paper Lion by George Plimpton also was a great read, particularly for the amateur player, not quite good enough to play the pro game.  A couple of other football books written in the same generation of players helped to capture a certain mystique about the game.  I doubt there have been any better books written about pro football since.  That these memories of certain books go with a particular season are an amazing thing to me.  Indeed I associate other books with other seasons as well.

“I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sun-burned hands I used to hold…”

Summer could last forever for me now.  Since I can not improve on the fall memories that I pray will never fall away, I would then wish for t-shirt and shorts weather to stick around.  While summer is always filled with a certain sort of contentment, fall is filled with nostalgia for a by-gone era.  I can stand in the middle of the park and remember what was, or travel to the arboretum to immerse myself in colored leaves, but I can not turn back any clocks.  That is the reminder that autumn ushers in with its cooler nights and shorter days.

“Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I’ll hear old winter’s song…”

If you live in the midwest part of the USA, you know that winter will come storming in all too soon.  Even if you like the snow of a Christmas morning, you never like the hours spent shovelling your walkways or digging out your automobile.  If you live in the “Windy City,” Chicago that is, then you absolutely know how a winter wind can “go right through you,” as many say here.  The meanness of old man winter is only welcomed by a scant few.  The rest of us understand so well that autumn points to the brutally mean side of Mother Nature.  When you reach the autumn of your own years, winter can not be made welcome, because you know that there is no spring to follow.  If you have not already stopped to smell the roses, or looked at the explosion of fall colors, then you have missed what nature and life itself has to offer.

“…but I miss you most of all my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall.”

There is a season for reminiscence and I guess that it is autumn.  If a cool fall afternoon can drive me to my computer to toss off some random thoughts, then I suppose the time is now.  For the people and times past that remain in my heart, I must declare that I miss you most of all, when autumn leaves start to fall.

– “Les feuilles mortes” music by Joseph Kosma and lyrics by poet Jacques Prévert, english lyrics by Johnny Mercer.

See also: “What Time Is It?” SERENDIPITY (teepee12.com) September 22, 2019.

DISCOVERING HOME – Rich Paschall

Maybe you do not have the time this summer to take a trip across country or across an ocean. Perhaps you will stay close to home. That does not mean there is little to do. Here are some of our stops last summer close to home. Be sure to click on “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for the rest of the article and more pictures.

Local Culture by Rich Paschall

Whether you live in a large city or a small town, there are likely to be places of cultural interest, historic sites or local festivals nearby.  If you are in Mitchell, South Dakota you can visit the Corn Palace.  Stockbridge, Massachusetts has the renowned Norman Rockwell Museum.  Hannibal, Missouri has the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, along with the white fence that may (or may not) have been the inspiration for the scene of Tom Sawyer getting his friends to whitewash the fence.

Tom Sawyer Fence? Hannibal, Missouri

In a big city like Chicago, there are many large cultural attractions.  The Museum of Science and Industry is located in a building erected for the 1893 World’s Colombian Exhibition.  The Art Institute on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago holds many iconic artworks.  The “museum campus” on the lakefront contains the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History, home to Sue, our T-Rex skeleton.  Yeah, it’s big.  Washington Park on the south side of the city holds the DuSable Museum named after the Haitian fur trader and supposed first permanent settler in the area now known as Chicago.  I have been to them all.

Du Sable Museum, Chicago

It is impossible to get to all the festivals around town.  We love a good festival and the summer is filled with them. Ethnicity, pride, food, drink, music are all reasons for festivals. In the third largest USA city, you can not know about all of the attractions, even if you have lived here all of your life.  On a recent visit from a friend from out-of-state, we found a few things we have missed in the past.

Before arriving in town he suggested we go to the Chicago Beer Classic at Soldier Field.  I had no idea we had a beer classic.  With booths set up all around the playing field where the Chicago Bears attempt football, one could go around and get 2-ounce samples from 150 craft beers in a special 2-ounce souvenir glass.  These were mostly out of area beers with only a few local brews known to us.

Soldier Field in Spring

Armed with a booklet of 48 tickets we set off for our samples.  I used 15 tickets but since some booths did not bother to collect them, I probably got about 20 samples, not a lot for 3 hours.   We interrupted our beer trek to take the behind the scenes tour of Soldier Field.  We saw locker rooms and some of the features of the recently renovated stadium.  Little more than the original columns exist today.

Chicago Beer Classic

Our week of local interests included the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, founded in 1857.  The original museum collection was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  Today it is located in a Lincoln Park building erected in 1999, containing exhibits of nature unique to the Midwest.

Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

One of the most popular features of the museum is the Butterfly Haven.  You have to be careful opening the doors to this large atrium style room so that the butterflies and moths do not fly away.  We were lucky enough to be there when they released new butterflies and moths to the room, which is a daily occurrence due to their short lifespan. In fact, some of the large moths they release only last about 5 hours.  If you sit still, some are likely to land on you.

The Chicago History Museum was also on our hometown tour.  This was founded as the Chicago Historical Society in 1856 and like the Nature Museum, it lost its collection in the Great Chicago Fire.   The current structure in Lincoln Park was built in 1932 and has been expanded twice.

We found interesting displays including those on Abe Lincoln, the development and recording of Blues in Chicago, and the struggles of diversity throughout our history.  I stepped onto an old elevated train car and sat at a school desk and saw that children of color did not always get the same education as others.  I saw a mocked up recording studio for Chicago Blues musicians.  If you were bold enough, you could walk into a little club room and sing the blues for us, karaoke style.

Chicago History Museum

By the way, I missed the Corn Palace in South Dakota.  When I was eight years old, we were on one of those family road trips to see Mount Rushmore. On the way back we went through Mitchell.  When we got there I was sleeping in the back seat of the car, so they left me there and my parents and older brother went to check out the palace.  Someone should have called Child and Family Services on these people. I think I was scarred for life by missing this attraction.

Many years later I took a friend from France to Hannibal, Missouri.  One of the few things he knew about the country was from reading Tom Sawyer.  I can not imagine how that translated. I am actually in the picture at the top, but my friend was clearly more interested in capturing Tom Sawyer’s fence than getting me in the picture.

If I ever get to Stockbridge, I am sure I will check out the Norman Rockwell Museum.  I have always been fascinated by the detail of his work.  I remember seeing them often on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.

What are your favorite local spots of interests?  What do you have left to explore on your stay-at-home vacation?  What could possibly be close to home that you do not even know about…yet?

CULTURE SHOCK – RICH PASCHALL

We continue to have culture shocks as time goes on. This week we discovered that the place called the Field Museum actually has a T-Rex skeleton in the building along with other dinosaur fossils. Isn’t life grand? Be sure to click “View original post” at the bottom to head over to SERENDIPITY for our culture shocking story.