Saturday, December 19, 2009

Spotted on North Ave



It was a gray, wet, and gloomy day. 

Here are a few bright faces. 

More on who they are and why I snapped their photo in the January 5th Pipeline




Thursday, December 17, 2009

Up close with Barry of Barry Drugs


There's a bit more response to this video over on the Windy Citizen, a site that I love and is a lot of fun, and I was mildly addicted to a few months back. 

The video was directed by Gary Marks of Hexagram Productions. 


Thanks for reading-- and watching. 
 

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Pipeline Apartment Envy Club






Ah, it's so much fun to look at cool apartments, and take photos, however, at the end of the day I'm just a member of the Pipeline Apartment Envy Club which just formed about two minutes ago when I uploaded these photos snapped yesterday as I wandered around in the skin freezing cold and wondered if I am insane to continue this weekly eNewsletter in the winter months. 

Though I'd need a roommate or two or three to live in a three bedroom spot like this one-- which includes newly remodeled kitchen, old school tin ceilings, washer and dryer, exposed brick, neat lighting, hardwood floors, and amazing natural light, -- I am thinking maybe there's a reader out there interested in this spot, which is on a less hectic and more quiet stretch of Milwaukee vs. the six corners area. 

While the kitchen is amazing for those that like to cook and entertain, the natural light and the windows facing Milwaukee as well as the painted over tin ceilings are stand outs in the Apartment Envy Club's book. Oh yeah, there's a fireplace, too!

If you are interested in this spot, please email streetsofwicker@hotmail with subject line of APARTMENT. Please mention you saw it in The Pipeline as you will get a special few bucks knocked off for being a true local in the know. 




Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Six Women (and a Man) on North Damen










(Note: This story initially appeared in the Sept. 21st issue of The Pipeline.  Not mentioned in the story, but also pictured at right are Beth of The Painted Lady with her dog, Stephanie of vive la femme, and Jean of Grasshopper 510. Once I add archiving I can better link to past stories, but for now I am including this story here as I am linking to it in today's Pipeline if I ever finishing addressing all the edits from Pat who is a rockstar mistake finder and we work well together since I make a lot of them, okay, back to the edits...)

When I asked Tony Fitzpatrick, pictured, about changes in the neighborhood that he's witnessed while working out of a studio storefront at 2124 North Damen for the better part of 15 years, the artist had a few responses. The one that struck me most is his observation that he's surrounded by established and new women-owned businesses. Following are just a few reasons why Tony is presumably one happily outnumbered guy...

The mysterious origin of Dianne Crosell's store's name, Crosell & Co., is easy enough: just look at her business card, which would have helped me connect the dots faster, but naturally I just inquired. I took a lot of pictures inside Dianne's cozy two level shop at 1922 N. Damen, full of housewares, picture frames, vases, pitchers, art, furniture, and no doubt dozens of other things I didn't see, all with a modern yet quaint vibe like this chair, pictured, along with Dianne. Dianne, who spent many years in corporate America, celebrated Crosell's third year in business this past June,. "I missed being in retail," she noted. 

Though a long way from Bucktown, Beth Barnett's farm in Buchanan, Michigan is the source for heirloom flowers like lamb's ears, yarrow, marigolds, sunflowers, calendula, zinnias, and dozens more featured over the seasons in the small yet spacious Larkspur, located in a former Polish bakery at 2123 N. Damen. Pictured in today's masthead, Beth set up an official shop of her own six years ago, though she'd been working with flowers for about 15 years, a carefarm in buchananer that began with a part-time job at a floral shop while a student at Columbia College. About half of Larkspur's business is weddings, with the other half a mix of walk-ins, deliveries, and commercial accounts. If Larkspur's flowers look familiar, it's because they adorn the tables and hostess stands of restaurant neighbors Duchamp, Takashi, and Toast Two. (Photo of the Larkspur farm, and flower with grasshopper courtesy of Beth).

Rebecca of Radiance Fine Jewelry, 2139 N. Damen,initially seemed a bit dubious about posing so close to her wares and kneeling behind glass, but after a bit of coaxing I think I accurately caught her smiling face and her enthusiasm for all things jewelry-- and it runs deep! Initially a sculpture major, Rebecca admits she wasn't really a fan of any of the professors in her program and decided to switch from sculpting to metalworking, a decision that more or less--with a few stops in-between, like waitressing at asports bar in Atlanta during the 1996 Summer Olympics---led to her own business, now celebrating its third year in Bucktown! 

As I was running late to meet a friend, I didn't get a chance to chat much with Julie (pictured), owner of Virtu, 2034 N. Damen, but during my uber brief stop I learned that she talks fast like me (perhaps even faster, which could be a first). She used to be a photographer, but after losing almost all of her work in a flood she decided to realign energies and opened Virtu in January of 2001.  Along with the three aforementioned shopkeepers, Virtu will participate in a Bucktown Bridal Walk on Sat., October 17th. With all the varied products and services from all four shops, these enterprising women have much to offer local brides and grooms to aid in planning a big day the local way!  Click here to read the press release for the Bridal Walk, which will also include a raffle, special sales, and light appetizers. RSVPs appreciated by calling 773-486-5710, or via email.

Whenever a sign says "Under New Management," my curiosity is piqued, as was the case with The Bucktown Beanery at 2156 N. Damen. The former owner was coincidentally a male, but now the beanery, like many of its neighbors, will be owned by a woman, specifically Erin Baroska, pictured. After a year-long postgraduation stint behind the wheel of an Oscar Mayer weiner mobile, Erin returned to the suburbs to manage a handyman franchise. She reports to The Pipeline that she was looking for a career shift with a fun, relaxed atmosphere, preferably in the city. It was a match made in heaven when she saw the cafe listed for sale on Craigslist and realized that the Bucktown Beanery is the place that her fiance and she always drove by en route to Blackhawk games and always wanted to stop in at. Well, now she can stop in anytime since she's got the keys.

Two other shop owners on North Damen that I intended to include are Robin Richman, and Stephanie Sacks. Robin is the owner of a boutique that bears her name at 2108 N. Damen. Vive la femme at 2048 N. Damen is owned by Stephanie, and recently celebrated its seventh year in business.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Inside the Second City Training Center


A Pipeline eNewsletter advertising sponsor, The Second City Training Center offers classes for adults and youths & teens (ages 1-18), and is now accepting registrations for January 2010. No prior experience needed, just a desire to laugh and to learn, and to explore your creative side in the company of others while honing presentation, speaking, and writing skills. Pop by Pipers Alley at 1608 N Wells or call 312-664-3959 to learn more. Does someone in your life need a push to get started, or do you just need to find a creative way to get them out of your hair for a few hours each week? Gift certificates aka "The Gift of Laughter" are available, too. 

Pictured are students in the Writing 5 program. They've been together for almost a year now. (Full disclosure: I am one of them, too, but I am on the floor taking the photo.) Captured on video is our awesome teacher, Joe Janes. When he's not teaching or acting in or directing shows he's proving that there's no such thing as Writer's Block and posting a sketch each day to the 365 Sketches blog.


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Inside Daniel's Antiques

Daniel discusses the work of Eddie Balchowsky.
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Basin at Wow & Zen

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Let's Get Sparkly: A Dress @ Clever Alice

Clever Alice is located at 1920 N. Damen.  


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The Art of Zsofia Otvos


The art of Zsofia Otvos can be seen in a variety of local spots, from Wisthoff Fitness to Bank of America, as well as a solo exhibition at the John Fluevog store on Milw., coming soon! Pictured is Zofia, who is also a makeup artist in addition to being a talented professional artist. Zsofia had a busy week this past week assisting with makeup on a movie shoot.  Note: Apologies on the angle, I haven't figured out video editing yet, just cock your head about 90-degrees.  video

Inside Wisthoff Fitness

Wisthoff Fitness is located at 2240 W North. 


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Something Old, Something New at Soutache






Soutache is located at 2125 N. Damen. 


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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Inside StoreB with Erin







StoreB is located at 1472 N. Milwaukee. 

I love walking into StoreB because it feels like another era, most likely because it's full of clothing and accessories from other eras. Pictured is the ever friendly, fashionable, and fun-to-photograph Erin of Store B behind the counter from about six months ago, as well as from yesterday, and on video discussing a plaid purse and matching driving gloves. 


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Banking on People: Local Soloists Shine

(The following is from the Sept. 29th issue of The Pipeline, reposted here due to the fact that the emails expire every four weeks and I am referencing this story in today's issue) 

If the 2016 Olympic games portend a new gilded age (and we'll find out this Friday), it'll be talented folks who work mainly alone, and with focus, who will figure out a way to breathe new life into our city's homes, violins, shoes, bodies, and dresses when the party's over. In fact, they're doing it now, and, The Pipeline is pleased to "back" the following entrepreneurs in this week's issue!

Dina Petrakis of Renovation Coaching  doesn't work with any new construction clients, though she admitted she's not sure why. What's obvious is Dina can only work with things she loves, and what she loves are vintage buildings like the Wicker Park Landmark District single family home built in 1887 that she converted from a two flat in just under a year--she kept its original trim and moldings and added modern touches like radiant heat. The project I'm referring to is Dina's home, and it was both a smart move (she took advantage of the city's eight-year property tax freeze for historic homes) and a long time coming after many years of working for others, which ultimately led to her own business in 1994. Initially focused on kitchen and bath work, in recent years Dina has expanded to include more challenging projects like converting one client's dark and dingy basement from a place no proper guest would dwell, except maybe a troll, into their most treasured spot.

It is Dina's expertise, enthusiasm, eye for style, and the fact she's got "a stair guy," a plumber, and probably a bunch of other professionals on speed dial that makes her a trusted go-to "coach" when HDTV influenced ambitious projects go awry, and require someone willing to take a gargantuan task like renovating a home, and break it down into manageable pieces by overseeing each component on an as needed basis, which sounds easier in theory than practice, and is exactly why Dina has a full client load, and, if my pop in this past Thursday was any indication, an ever ringing sink basinphone strapped to her head. In many ways, working as a renovation coach is an interesting way to apply her formal training from Northern Illinois, which was in Family Social Services. "I'm working to satisfy both parties, so it takes compromise, and it's a lot like counseling," she noted. Though I initially snapped a photo of Dina in her kitchen, ultimately she hid those few dirty dishes in the background for nothing as I ended up liking the photo of her alongside an unfinished piece of embroidery that she purchased many years ago for twenty-five cents at a Salvation Army in her hometown of Freeport much better. The piece, which hangs at the top of her stairs, seems a metaphor for the renovation process and her life's work--seeing beauty in the unfinished. 
 
About 10 months ago Paul Wargaski moved his luthier business, Paul Wargaski Violins, back to the hood. After a stint working downtown, Paul reports that the lower parking costs here are nice, as is his convenient location at 1900 W. North just a few blocks off the expressway. "Nobody wants to run in and drop off or pick up an instrument, and pay $20," he noted on the recent afternoon when I popped by his third floor violinsstudio. Within seconds of him saying that, almost as if on cue, a local musician buzzed Paul's bell to pick up a newly restrung bow. Though repairs are part of his daily drill, Paul also crafts violins, violas, cellos, and double bases, both for the professional musician and serious students. Pictured here is Paul showing me a double bass which he plays after I asked him if he plays violin, which he doesn't, though his wife is a violinist and instructor in the northern suburbs.

Dr. Otylia Hoberland, DC, set up Conservative Chicago Care practice about two months ago at 1654 W. North (in the spot where Gabriella Shoes used to be) after working in the field for three years. With her mission implicit in the name, Otylia's goal is to explore a variety of natural, noninvasive, conservative  treatments for alleviating pain in an effort to  cut surgeries out of the equation, no pun intended, though in some cases Otylia notes that surgery is necessary. Fluent in Spanish, Polish, and English, Otylia wears at least as many hats as languages she speaks by acting as receptionist, chiropractician, and office housekeeper. Now in the height of "marathon season," Otylia is currently working with a variety of runners at different skill levels with their with neck, leg, and back pain. An unusually large number of local women all seem to be pregnant at the same time and experiencing lower back pain, and, Oylia has a remedy for those patients too. Pictured is Otylia holding onto a Thera-Band. While I could have used a more professional shot of Otylia taken from her web site, or even used photographer Jennifer Bisbing's portrait of her, which will be featured in the upcoming benefit at Chrome Gallery, The Pipeline likes to snap people in action, and when possible at the time of interview. It's just more fun that way, so thanks Otylia for introducing me to the Thera-Band, and for bearing with goofy photo requests! Oh, there's a 45% off coupon for new patients that I did not do a good job of weaving into this blurb...

 "People seem to be treating their shoes better, trying to make them last longer than they used to," noted Elijah of Your Shoe Repair at 2240 W. North. This observation from the front lines of the economy is perhaps bad for stores selling new shoes, but it's job security for Elijah's shop, which is seeing a surge in steady business in recent months. Elijah opened his store about two years ago, and he's often seen playing chess, but he cautioned me that I should let potential challengers know that if they want to play chess, they should bring along a pair of shoes, too, or else he'll really feel like he's not working. There was a bit of awkwardness as I drew a complete blank on Elijah's name during a recent pop in, and after many attempts at names blurted out, none of which were the correct one, I turned the tables, and retorted, "Wait a second, I bet you don't remember my name!" He then responded with my name, and even pronounced it correctly, which came out of left field as most people either forget it or mispronounce it. He dug more salt into the wound by mentioning how could I forget the name of someone that I once lent a book to? He asked me if I wanted the book, The Psychology of Selling, back, and I said no, though maybe I should reread it as there's probably a rule in it about the importance of never forgetting anyone's name. As an apology I threw his photo, snapped last week, at the top of today's newsletter, and I am also sharing a photo of Elijah from August of 2007 when I had unsuccessfully tried to sell him advertising space in a newspaper.

I didn't get a chance to interview Liz Meyer of Silver Moon Vintage at 1721 W. North. Instead, I watched her work with a client during a fitting. Though the custom made, royal blue vintage inspired dress was stunning, the wedding has yet to occur, thus the bride, a local, and her gown, will not make an appearance here until at least after her Halloween wedding. About 50% of Silver Moon's clientele are brides, mother-of-the-brides, members of bridal parties, and people looking for unique vintage fashions to wear to retro weddings, which are all the rage these days. The other half of Liz's shop, which recently relocated from a block or so away, offers impeccably maintained vintage clothing. Fun fact: In high school Liz worked the makeup counter at Fantasy Costumes in Portage Park. 

First Ever Kid's Sample Sale at Beta Boutique

Business Burglary Tips


(Addition info on Business related crime, reposting from June 29th issue of Street Scene for the purpose or linking to an updated story in today's issue as I don't have archiving yet)

There were at least 15 sets of bright eyes at this past CAPS meeting, held on Tuesday, June 23rd at 9 a.m. in the community room of the 14th District Police HQ at 2150 N. California. The gathering included a special presentation on "Burglary Business Concerns" by Officer Ron Rufo, pictured. Fourth Police District Commander Lucio Martinez's opening comments noted that, "With the economy down, burglary is on the rise."

The increase in crimes unfortunately carries no pattern, though patterns are easier to distinguish when business owners work together, and utilize word of mouth, and phone trees to report suspicious behaviors, graffiti, break ins, bad checks, and counterfeit bills, among other concerns.

Since January, five homicides have taken place in the 14th District,  which is one more than this same time last year. Two were gang related, one was road rage, and the other two Martinez couldn't recall, though he noted that one of the gang related homicides resulted in an arrest.

Graffiti is up all over the city, though arrests for graffiti in District 14 are up 20%, with eight new arrests since the last CAPS meeting on May 23rd.

In response to a question about the possibility of many of the graffiti offenders being from the suburbs, Martinez responded, "I wouldn't say that they are suburbanites, but many are Anglo American."  According to Martinez, a recent offender caught tagging a local building was a 32-year-old restaurant manager from the suburbs.

Following Martinez's report, Officer Ron Rufo delivered a presentation focused on understanding the mind of the amateur burglar. Rufo emphasized the importance of a solid door, with a three screw deadbolt lock, noting that hollow doors with weak locks are too easily kicked in. He encouraged businesses to disconnect electrical garage doors, and to padlock them.

"Nobody likes to admit that they've gotten duped," Rufo noted. "Let others on the block know if it happens to you, because they will walk right up to the next shop."  Rufo cautioned attendees not to be fooled by smooth dressers, and to "trust gut feelings."

In regards to motion detector lighting and surveillance cameras, there was some confusion about the Facade Rebate Program, and whether or not it covers half the cost, or up to one third of security cameras, or any portion at all. Per a representative from the Logan Square chamber, the reimbursement for security cameras has been discontinued, and pending further review.

Last year, with the help of an associate, Rufo examined 300 businesses to offer free advice on getting up to speed on security.  To schedule a consultation, please contact Officer Rufo at 312-745-5838 Ext. 84652

In other news, the 14th District is planning its National Night Out Against Crime, slated for Tuesday, August 14th from 5 to 10 p.m. in the 14th District parking lot. Elvis impersonator Rick Saucedo will perform for two hours. Other entertainment includes a comedy show, petting zoo, motorcycle displays, a riding bull machine, rock climbing, and  a "Dunk A Cop" dunk tank, among other attractions.  The event is looking for business sponsorship, and accepting donations.  The department is expecting at least 2,500 attendees again this year. If you'd like more information on the Night Out, or would like to donate, please call 312-744-1261, or via CAPS.014DISTRICT@CHICAGOPOLICE.ORG

The Next Business CAPS Meeting will take place on Tuesday, July 28th at 3 p.m.  It will be geared toward owners of late night businesses such as bars, and clubs, with a focus on city ordinances.