The number of transportation options for Edgewater residents extends far and wide, but they do not cater to wheelchair users in the area. Since most of the Red Line stations in the area do not have elevators, wheelchair users must stick to the Chicago Transit Authority buses and more expensive PACE Paratransit buses. The CTA hopes to add elevators to most of the north stations in the upcoming years. For now, wheelchair users must roll with the punches.
Full time librarian Edward Remus will do whatever the Edgewater Public Library needs. He will scrub floors, act as a branch manager, plan adult events and even mediate conflicts.
“I don’t know if it’s right to say we do a lot with a little,” he said. “I think it’s more accurate to say we do a lot with nothing.”
Remus orchestrates everything from film screenings to knitting clubs at the library. He often cleans up after them too. He claims all this effort goes toward keeping the library a safe haven and community center.
“We can enrich people’s lives with knowledge, culture and by engaging each other,” he said. “And that’s an important aspect of libraries, as the third space and a public space.”
Remus planned a joint event with the Edgewater Historical Society last Saturday. The event centered on author and Edgewater resident Patrick Butler’s new book called “Hidden History of Uptown and Edgewater.”
Mostly senior citizens crowded into the library’s meeting room for his stroll down memory lane. Chairs ran out quickly, so some attendees stood in whatever crevice they could find. The line extended out of the door during the entire event.
“Events like these show that books are still alive,” said Betty Mayian, director of the Edgewater Historical Society.
The $13.7 million Edgewater Public Library opened on June 22 of this year to thousands of eager residents. The upgraded facility holds 54 computers, multiple study spaces and new meeting rooms. About 1000 people come in and out of the new branch daily.
The opening followed budget cuts and staff cut threats made by the mayor’s office in 2012. Even though the office increased Chicago Public Library’s budget this year to add more technology and programs, some residents think the targeted younger audiences are harder to satisfy.
“The library struggles to get younger people at events like these,” said 20 year Edgewater resident John Holden.
Even though the older crowd took over the event, some younger residents managed to sneak in.
“Most of us are probably hungover,” said younger resident Aimee Parduhn. She thought the event answered many questions however.
“You walk down the streets and see all the awards in the neighborhood,” she said. “It makes you wonder what it is all about.”
Mayian tried to get more young adults at the event by providing free coffee and snacks, but to little avail.
Despite residents’ beliefs, young people still find libraries useful, according to a Pew Internet Study released a few months ago. Almost 70 percent of people ages 16 to 29 visited a library in the past year, compared to 62 percent of adults over the age of 30. 85 percent of 16 to 17 year olds read a book in the last year, which stood as more than any other age group surveyed.
Teenagers maintain relationships with print, even though they remain embedded in the Internet and the digital age. The Edgewater Public Library caters to that population through maintaining multiple computers, having 24/7 Wi-Fi capabilities and planning events such as “The Science of Sex” film screenings and discussions coming up in December.
“The Wi-Fi never shuts off,” said Remus, cracking a smile. “We add value to the real estate in that aspect.”
Even though he acts as one of the library’s workhorses, Remus always finds joy in his job. Residents compliment events he organized, saying the humble librarian helps build the new library as a neighborhood cultural institution.
He recalled one recent incident where a woman commented on an open courseware class he taught. The lady said she taught skills learned in the class to her father. And those skills he learned intellectually sustained him for the last years of his life.
“I’m getting chills now thinking about this,” he said. “You don’t get that opportunity in a lot of lines of work.”
Ventra officials kept Edgewater residents scratching their heads about numerous transit card issues at the final 48th Ward Town Hall meeting last Tuesday.
“The Ventra card is one that has been a major glitch, to put it kindly,” said Alderman Harry Osterman, shaking his head to the couple dozen attendees at Senn High School.
The Chicago Transit Authority introduced the Ventra card this fall. Many riders complained about faulty card readers and being overcharged. 1.7 million people use the train daily. It is the second largest public transportation system in the country, according to the CTA’s website.
Ventra official Ambar Mentor-Truppa acknowledged the numerous card-scanning issues. She urged those in attendance to check the frequently updated website and to be patient with the card readers on the turnstiles. She said double tapping cards on card readers will not make the turnstiles open and could overcharge riders. She also stressed Ventra is working on software updates to make the new card system more efficient.
“Millions of the transactions are going on every single day on the system,” she said. Truppa added that traveling would be smoother when the Ventra system is finally synched with customers.
Those in attendance understood they must cope with the transition. But longtime resident and computer programmer Steve Simons said some of the other card functions are “shameful.”
“When I use this on the bus, I don’t know if it’s subtracting a full fare or a transfer,” he yelped to the podium.
“[The card reader] says stop, people don’t know why,” he complained. “Even the bus driver, so he lets the person get on for free.”
Ventra cards will replace other CTA fare media before the end of this year. Chicago remains the only major U.S. city to embrace an open transit payment system.
Other issues discussed during the meeting included the popular grocer Dominick’s closing and what will become of the property. The alderman also discussed safety, which he said was the Ward’s number one priority.
Uptown Chamber of Commerce worker Sarah Brune thought the meeting went well, especially since Osterman brought CTA officials.
“People want that interface,” she said. “They don’t always get that all the time.”
48th Ward residents will get another chance to discuss neighborhood issues virtually on November 22 at the alderman’s Town Hall “webinar.”
Edgewater food pantry Care For Real has combated poverty in the community for more than 40 years. This video profile looks into the lives of some of the volunteers and why they continue to work at the influential little pantry. The link below appeared on the Northwestern News Network.
Also, if Vimeo does not work for you, check out the Youtube version!
People should recognize Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as The Weeknd by now.
The Drake cosigned, Canadian crooner released three critically acclaimed mixtapes in 2011 (House of Balloons, Thursday, and Echoes of Silence). He rereleased them with three extra songs as a compilation album, Trilogy, and sold almost 300,000 records. His frequent drug-filled, sex-crazed and painful lyrics polarized listeners for the last two years. MTV reporter John Norris even dubbed him as the next “songbird of his generation.”
Now, his new album, Kiss Land, attempts to maintain that polarization.
It succeeds. And, it doesn’t.
The Weeknd introduces listeners to his view of the tour life, which is everything you can expect: painful, introspective and sometimes scary. The album is not a continuation of Trilogy. Life on tour has changed the singer, but not his lyrical prowess or presence. He still sings metaphoric lines and lets his voice haunt throughout his songs.
In the onion-layered intro “The Professional,” The Weeknd compares and contrasts what it means to be a “professional,” singing “you’re somebody now, but what’s a somebody in a nobody town?” He muses about so-called professionals in the music and “love” industry, superimposing them into the same basic ideal: that everything they sell will never be real. He closes his album similarly with the obviously Blade Runner influenced “Tears In The Rain.” He cries, “don’t show the world how alone you’ve become.” His influence blends in with our world full of entertainers and their fans. He will always be another blended tear in the rain.
Even though the album contains songs with multi-layered lyrics, it does get redundant and sometimes overly simplistic. In “Pretty,” and the title track “Kiss Land,” Tesfaye offers more straightforward lyrics consisting of a girl he might not get back and how filled his tour life is with drug, sex and rock and roll. “This ain’t nothing to relate to,” he croons in the title track. We definitely cannot relate Mr. Tesfaye, but you are candidly telling us your life story and not symbolically fondling our brains like you did on your mixtapes.
“The Town” and “Belong To The World” also deal with similar women issues, over epic and haunting production. The entire album engulfs listeners into Tesfaye’s tour experience perfectly with the emotional and eargasmic production, but somewhat redundantly. Ironically, redundancy is the essence of the tour life he so eloquently describes.
While Kiss Land puts listeners in a trance, the persona The Weeknd portrays can snap you out of it. On “Wanderlust,” he channels Michael Jackson in a poppy, yet brutally honest track about how “love” is misunderstood in society. As the song progresses, listeners discover he is harmonizing just to have sex with some groupie. Even on the baby-making “Love in the Sky,” he desperately wants a girl to get high and have sex with him but also to know that he wants to become a musical legend. The Weeknd sings sexily and ignorantly about nasty and blunt (pun) things, but makes them sound OK with his falsetto. He is the closest thing R&B has vocally to R. Kelly, Prince and Michael Jackson.
Abel Tesfaye absorbs listeners into his world and persona with Kiss Land, which his mixtapes and other album do equally well. The production can reel in, but also make the listening experience uncomfortable. His lyrics are sexily insensitive and layered at the same time, leaving the listeners to make up whatever interpretation they please. The album is not better than his mixtapes, but it is still a great piece of work. The Weeknd describes the redundancy and tiresome tour life in the only way he can. He is an isolated guy who thinks too much, sleeps with too many women and uses too many drugs. He is the carny who should be fired from his job because of his lifestyle, but keeps getting a high amount of participants. His ride, Kiss Land, definitely does not disappoint. Just be prepared for a gnarly experience.
3.5 out of 4 stars
Must listens: “The Professional,” “Love In The Sky,” “Wanderlust” and “Kiss Land.”
Listen to the album below.
The 19 year-old PARTYNEXTDOOR welcomes listeners to his party in his debut, PARTYNEXTDOOR, but does not keep them for long. The young crooner brags about strippers, partying, some drugs and not much else.
In his first mixtape as Drake’s OVO (October’s Very Own) imprint signee, PND’s production outshines his simplistic lyricism. The spacey synths and smooth sax transitions distinguish him as Drake’s artist/hypeman, but that’s about it. PND laments more about his lifestyle and not who he is really his.
But maybe that’s all we need in his debut.
PND evokes the young, fake-ID-holding, adolescent club life perfectly in certain cuts. In “Wild Bitches,” the teen harmonizes about attempting to smash a girl that’s playing him. The minimalistic production equipped with quick transitioning drum beats showcase the young singer’s voice, even if he tries too hard to harmonize and hold long notes.
“Right Now,” a standout pre-party track from the tape, positions PND as the perfect party hyper. Lines like “I’m in a room full of dancers/ all of us cancers/ one clears the cash while the other one dances,” might be simple, but induces that pregame playlist sound as he croons away.
Similar sentiments are expressed on the self-produced “Wus Good/Curious,” where PND is about to climax under a girl giving him that “good love.” Then on the sax-filled “Curious,” segment of the song, he makes a Weeknd-like switch, minus the gratuitous drug use and second thoughts. He exhibits playfulness and some wordplay on this track too saying “Shit I just might kiss her/ she just changed her Twitter to ‘Party-Gets-Me-Wetter.”
“Over Here,” the hopeful summer-anthem from the tape, positions him comfortably next to big brother Drake, harmonizing his way through the island-like tune while Drake steals the show with his typical self-aware guest verse.
Other tracks on the short mixtape leave the singer sounding a little too young and clichéd such as the corny “Ballin.” He uses not-so-clever immature wordplay to make the term “ballin,” refer to finishing on women. On “TBH,” he tries to be honest but cannot explain his love in the two minutes he allots himself. He ends up coming off as a Tumblr-artist making an ode to the “tbh” Facebook statuses.
PARTYNEXTDOOR is a decent up-tempo debut for PARTYNEXTDOOR. His youth works against him, but his smooth, OVO-type production lifts him up. He produces a few pregame party anthems on his way, even though he comes off as Drake’s Weeknd substitute on a few tracks. The short mixtape is a good addition to the short OVO catalog.
2.5 out of 4 strippers.
Download now: “Right Now,” “Wus Good/Curious,” “Over Here feat. Drake”
Best times to listen to the tape:
- Before parties, preferably with strippers.
- While driving with a pretty stripper next to you
- While smoking…with a stripper
- Basically with anything involving strippers.
Listen to the mixtape here:
South Side Chicago resident Rhonda Franklin rolled out of bed at 5 a.m. to teach at Joseph Brennemann Elementary School on the North Side. She proudly rode the Red Line to work everyday from the 95th and Dan Ryan station to the Sheridan one.
But everything changed on Monday, May 19, 2013. That day, the Chicago Transit Authority closed the Dan Ryan branch of the Red Line for a five-month reconstruction period.
The reconstruction is part of Rahm Emanuel’s “Building a New Chicago” program, which also involves investing millions into Chicago Public Schools and refining the city’s parks. The reconstruction project should cost $425 million, according to the CTA website.
“They said it was going to be easy,” said Franklin.
The CTA provides free or reduced fare shuttles in some of the areas affected by the reconstruction, especially at the Garfield Green Line stop. People that need to go from 63rd to 95th Street must take those express buses. But those buses are not always “express.”
“’Express’ meaning ‘on time’ is true,” said Rhonda. “’Express’ as in ‘quick,’ not so much.”
Franklin is one of the more than 80,000 commuters affected by the shutdown, according to the CTA website.
“There is no project in modern memory that has generated this kind of pain for commuters,” said Joseph Schwieterman, a professor at the School of Public Service at DePaul University.
He called the Red Line a “work horse,” saying that it deserved repairs, even at the cost of losing some stations for the next five months.
“When you shut down service, the cost of your rebuilding goes way down and the impact of your rebuilding goes way up,” said Chris Robling, a former Regional Transportation Authority spokesperson.
Before the five-month reconstruction process started, the CTA could have closed the tracks only on weekends. But, this option required construction for the next four years. The five-month option saved $75 million.
“We need to address these slow zones,” said Catherine Hosinski, a CTA spokeswoman.
Construction crews at all of the Red Line stations past Roosevelt are replacing the entire track bed and adding new elevators to stations like Garfield and 63rd. The project should result in smoother rides and faster commutes.
Hosinski said reconstruction would be more beneficial during the summer because of school ending for kids. She also said she received mostly positive feedback from the reconstruction.
But most commuters have mixed feelings about the Red Line shutdown.
Clifford Hunt, a former South Side resident, acknowledged that the Red Line’s Dan Ryan branch needed repairs.
“It’s old as all get out,” he said. “Five months of shut down is okay compared to riding rickety, wholly outdated stations.”
Others, like Immigrant Youth Justice League Worker Daniel Garcia, are a little more skeptical.
“The shuttle bus won’t be very affective,” he said.
Sometimes the shuttles routes are not coordinated with the train routes. He recalled an incident where a substitute shuttle bus took him almost a mile further than his destination.
“I just gave up and walked to my destination,” said Garcia.
Other commuters understood Garcia’s sentiments, especially Franklin.
Now, she must find a ride to the closed Cermak and Chinatown station. Then, she catches the substitute bus to the Roosevelt Red Line stop, where she takes the northbound train to her school. This new journey adds more than 10 minutes to her already lengthy travel time.
“I don’t see the work they say they are doing,” said Rhonda, waiting for her ride back home from the Garfield Green Line station.
“I just hope they are.”
The Chicago White Sox have a losing record so far this season, but are the fans losing as well? The effect of the Red Line shutdown from the Cermak-Chinatown stop to the 95th and Dan Ryan stop has barely impacted the fans, but the Sox organization is making swift changes to accommodate their loyal fans. However, that doesn’t mean the changes can change their opinions, especially during the Crosstown Classic against that other Chicago team.
Chinatown commuters must now take an express bus to the Chinatown stop instead of the Red Line. This affects many businesses in Chinatown except for the Chicago Chinese Table Tennis Club, found in an alley on W 23rd Street. Talented players young and old gather there whenever they want to play intense, but fun matches. The characters and personalities of the owners and players ensure that this hidden place will never disappear.
Officials and professors might support the reconstruction, but commuters are divided. Some want repairs but not at the cost of losing their main mode of transportation. Others think the project will not finish on time, similar to other CTA endeavors. Here is what your everyday South Siders have to say about the controversial closing.