Sunday, August 25, 2013

Destination: Flamingo

When it's a lovely, clear day in Chicago, there are other places I might also suggest a tourist go to sit and watch the world walk by and Federal Plaza is a another great place to pause and enjoy.  (Hey! "Meet me under Flamingo" could be a thing!)  Here are some reasons to choose Flamingo and Federal Plaza:

1.  A nice, steady flow of locals.
    1.a.  Weekly farmers market featuring locally grown fruits and vegetables and locally baked goods.
    1.b.  Occasional protest march/action ending/beginning in Federal Plaza.
    1.c.  A mediocre Oktoberfest featuring loud bands, drunken young professionals, and decent beer.
    1.d.  [Insert nationality here]fest but Daley Plaza is the preferred venue for that sort of fest.

2.  A nice, steady flow of tourists.    
3.  The law enforcement officials that linger and rest for a minute.  I was advised that about 60 minutes after the picture below was taken there were five or six bicycle police officers congregated together by Flamingo instead of the single one I caught.  Since it's Federal Plaza, there are sometimes many different law enforcement groups in attendance, sometimes on horseback.  Of course, the CIA guys?  If they're doing their jobs right we will never ever know which ones they are.

4.  Flamingo is pretty darn awesome.

5.  Just five blocks west of Flamingo, in the Wacker St. lobby of the Willis Tower, there's another Calder called "The Universe."  It's a mobile but powered by electricity.  It's worth the visit because there is just so much going on it.  I would bore you all to death with my photos of it but I am never close enough to the Willis Tower to go in and snap a pic, ever ever ever.  Occasionally I whiz by on a bus bound for Federal Plaza but that's about it.  Here is a link with very jumpy camera work:  )

Take a load off!  It's Calder!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Oh, please stop talking about Flamingo already

I left work early on Thursday as I had an hour overtime that I had to take.  I got over to Federal Plaza, guards were still on duty in the lobby of the Kluczynski Federal Building, and I went in and asked a question.

"Can I go to the passport office, please?  I want to take a picture out the window."

This brought a barrage of negatives.  The passport office takes no one after 3:30 pm.  No pictures can be taken inside that building.  No pictures can be taken inside that building looking out.  No pictures.  No.  None.  Nope.  Ixnay.

My response:  "Really?  Really?  Really?" to every single negative.


Finally one of the guards gave information.  (Clearly, when you see just saying no is not enough, give up something even if you know the something will probably lead nowhere.  It will stop the flurry of "really?" and get the strange woman out of your face.)  Get approval from the General Services Administration (GSA) and maybe I could do it, he said.  Call them, he said, or write them a letter.  He couldn't let me up there to visit them because it was 4:10 pm and they close at 4 pm.  I said thanks and strolled out with information (maybe solid, maybe gassy).

I haven't called them yet but I will because for me, there is one last shot that needs to be taken of Flamingo, and until I get it, I'll feel like the horse that I'm beating to death still has some life.

Until then, allow this picture taken from the architecture firm on the second floor of the Marquette Building which looks upon Federal Plaza and offers an interesting perspective.

From the 2nd floor of the Marquette, overlooking Adams and Federal Plaza; Dearborn is on the left
Yeah, I'd be staring out the window all the doodah day.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Flamingo set to stun!

It depends on the time of day that I approach, but it's usually about 5 pm, after work, that I've made my way to Federal Plaza.  One day was right after a rain and I grabbed a few Panorama shots and didn't wait for everyone to leave.  The remains of the passersby were tremendous.  Observe:

He had a cart, he was booking, he might even be flipping me off.

No, this wasn't the Twin Parade.  XOXO to Panorama!   

A day later, it seemed like it could become a Transformer and blow a hole in that movie franchise.
(No need to blow a hole, just make it stop.)

Ready?  Aim! ...

One of my favorite summer flowers is the hollyhock, especially the red ones.  In Detroit, where I grew up, if people had alleys behind their homes, they seemed to plant them near their garbage cans.  Bees also love hollyhocks so taking out the trash or even walking down an alley was an adventure.
No bees! 5:30 pm on a weekday

I walked from the Blue Line El stop to the library and found this red offering which I am pleased to share.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

My Goofy Little Gym

So I belong to a goofy little gym that's part of a goofy little chain.  There's nothing about this goofy little gym that's luxurious.  The parking situation is weird -- either park on the roof or park on this street.  If you park in the street level parking lot, you will be towed.  There are no classes offered.  There is no swimming pool.  There are no massage chairs or tanning beds.  You cannot ever get a haircut.  The locker rooms are spare but clean and the showers are the same way.  The toilet area has never made me cringe.  The towels are threadbare washclothes.

The employees are nice or nice enough and don't seem to have attitude issues.  If you need to know how to do something, they will show you.  They all seem to get along, especially the weekend crew of three men.  The weekend crew used to be two women but no two men could ever replace two women and so a third man was brought in.  The women bustled about more, getting things done that needed it.  The men enjoy entertaining each other but eventually get around to cleaning and straightening and folding the towels.  Sometimes they are nowhere around to make sure everyone has their card or to call 911 if something unpleasant happens.  Sometimes I am there for my whole workout and never see one of them.  I've decided this is okay because the place is stuffed with testerone-y types with muscles and determination.  I also work out near an exit and if I have to flee, it's right there.  When they're there, they seem to be glad to see me.

During my (so far) yearlong membership, the club has brought in equipment, all of which is for the body builder types.  The belts on treadmills need to be replaced, the TVs built into the treadmills need a lot of attention and often don't work, and the channels on each machine depends on the caprice of the staff at the time.  I finally asked if I could call from the treadmill if I wanted another station programmed in and they said yes, they would not be opposed to my doing that (but I've not done it yet).  The place now has probably 20% more equipment than when I joined last year.  It's a small space, so it looks stuffed.

Recently, a shiny new health club opened a location two blocks away.  It's huge, in a former grocery store space that had been empty for many years.  The equipment is all new and the choice of TV stations is great.  When my contract was up last month, I went to check it out.  It was nice in there and I was greeted by a young man at the counter who seemed to be taking up space and giving out towels and not much else.  He could answer no questions.  His associate then came over and gave me their spiel and a lot of attitude.  Lots and lots of attitude and no explanation for why their enrollment fee was so high.  Then he thought he would share that the enrollment fee changes depending on the day of the month you came in.  Then he offered me some more attitude and as I was leaving, a little more attitude than that.  It must be a perk of the job:  giving attitude to everyone.

Yesterday I came into the club and it was stuffed with muscular men pushing around weights, leaping onto different heights of table, running on the treadmill like they were being chased by bad men with guns.  The employees were nowhere to be seen.  Later they materialized by the treadmills, one standing on the still treadmill belt while the other two talked to him.  When I was leaving I said hi and bye and they seemed glad to see me.  I decided I would just stay put.

AFTERWORD:  I went to my goofy little gym tonight and there were no employees to be seen.  I really wanted to watch "60 Minutes" but my treadmill TV didn't offer it.  Yes, I called.  Yes, a guy answered and yes, he sweetly and politely checked to make sure my treadmill's TV was programmed for it and then came over and put it on for me.  He was absolutely lovely.