Water Ritual

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Photo by Roman

Among the many puzzling if not quaint customs preserved by the natives of Chicago is the weekly Watering of the Concrete. Since this is mostly a summertime ceremony, it can be quite refreshing on the hottest of days. The origins and meanings of the ritual are quite obscure but are said to be related to another ritual, The Paying of the Rent.

“Men in Blues”

The pacing may have been off a bit, but that comes with the territory when just about every alien in the Hollywood movie universe is (are?) after the Blues Brothers. Because I think it is important that we smile in the rising gloom, may I present to you another video mash-up by Fabrice Mathieu.

I remember Blues Brothers being filmed in Chicago. On one of the filming dates, I was on my bike to Chicago’s south side to get a haircut. It was the last haircut I ever got.

Artists of the Wall 2022

For some reason long since obscured by time, the southern end of the beach in Loyola Park is bordered by a broad promenade and, for some 600 feet, a concrete retaining wall and bench. Just the place to gather graffiti like flies on a cow pie. Back in 1993, somebody decided to pre-empt the scrawls with artwork from the Rogers Park community that would be laid on the wall in June during a two day festival with music and vittles.

This year’s event was held over the Fathers’ Day weekend. The theme was The World of Tomorrow, I understand. I did not attend but several days later I came by to view the results and to photograph what I liked. The images below are the images that I preferred, not necessarily the “best” wall panels in the show no matter who is the judge.

Also, the wall is never finished in just two days. A few of the artists will be tinkering with their work for a while yet.

2022 wasn’t a bad year but I think there’ve been better. See for yourself.

(Recommended: Click any image below to enlarge it.)

I should add that while the photography is not bad mostly, this was not a best effort. The photos were taken in the late morning, not far from Noon, and the wall generally faces east with little shade. My camera is smarter about such things than I am, but even it had problems. It wasn’t made easier by the new paint that had something of a gloss to it, the reflected light complicating matters even more. It was a situation that inspires gratitude for digital over film… Lots of discards… Late afternoon or maybe a bright overcast day might be better for someone like me. Or if you have a better camera that allows for more manual control, maybe the time of day is not so important… Just sayin’…

Illinois Votes! 2022

Mural just south of Addison Street on Clark Street. There’s a second panel but a vehicle was blocking the shot. Photo by Roman.


The 2022 primary election in Illinois began this week and will conclude on election day: June 28, 2022. For more information, start with the Illinois State Board of Elections.  For some things, you’ll end up at your local county’s board of elections web site. So if you live in Chicago, go directly to Chicago’s Board of Election Commissioners.

This election is conducted by the governments of Illinois on behalf of whatever parties have jumped through the challenges required to gain the golden fleece of official recognition. In Illinois, this means the Democratic and Republican brands though there may be more choices where you live.

By taking a party ballot, you become a member of that party in the sight of the law… even if for only one brief moment until you repent. But that choice remains a matter of public record.

The election will determine each party’s nominees for the November General Election and will elect members of each party’s governing committees. (Yes, once your party has that official recognition, much of your party’s structure is mandated by state law.)

It is true that there are a good many contests whose outcomes won’t be particularly meaningful. My way of dealing with that is to simply not vote in those contests. But I can almost always find one or more contests of interest. Really, I can’t think of any political work lasting about a half hour that would be more consequential than the half hour spent casting your vote.


* For those interested in third parties and different voting systems, allow me to recommend Richard Winger’s Ballot Access News as a news source about what is happening in legislatures and courts about elections and voting.

Not-so-rapid Transit

Photo by Roman.

Here is a CTA Evanston Express train sauntering northward to the Howard Station. One can’t exactly call it “rapid” transit at this leg of its run… “brisk” maybe? In any case, this is also one of the spots on its route where the train sometimes gets stopped in traffic: some interfering Red Line or Skokie Swift train or a recalcitrant switch or some unauthorized personnel on the right-of-way… But not today.

Have I mentioned that I’ve always liked trains and railroads? So this CTA train in a classic train photograph pose should be no surprise. One would expect more, yes?

Except that I rarely have occasion to ride trains these days…