Old Town Ramble

Been going to the city more than usual lately. One destination for a recent walkabout was Old Town, a near North Side Chicago neighborhood that I’ve passed by at the edges countless times. Walked through it, not so much. On a warm day this month, when I did finally take a walk in the neighborhood along such streets as Cleveland, Hudson, Sedgwick, Orleans, and Menomenee, all north of North Ave., I had the strange feeling that I wasn’t quite in Chicago any more.

“There is a scale to Old Town, a closeness of building to street and street to cross street and curb to curb that you simply don’t find anywhere else in the city,” one Vince Michael wrote in the limited but informative blog Renown Old Town.

“It is not so much about the rope mouldings above the windows or the paired brackets and dentils at the eave or even those Furnessian ornaments on Adler & Sullivan’s Halstead Houses. It is about a premodern relationship of buildings and streets and narrow alleyways – something not unusual in Rome or the old part of Edinburgh but exceedingly rare in Chicago.”

I didn’t think of Rome during my Old Town walk, and I’ve never wandered Edinburgh, but even so something about the alignment of the neighborhood is atypical for Chicago. It doesn’t really come through in pictures, though you can get a sense of some of the area’s handsome buildings that way.

Old Town, Chicago

Old Town, ChicagoOld Town, ChicagoOld Town, ChicagoEvery interesting neighborhood worthy of that adjective has its spots of whimsy. So too with Old Town.

Old Town, ChicagoOld Town, ChicagoThen there was this charming building, Schmidt Metzgerei. Butcher’s shop, though the it looks like Mitzgerei, except there’s no dot over the first i. (Vince Michael posits that Mitzgerei is an older variant spelling; I couldn’t say).
Schmidt Mitzgerei, Old Town, ChicagoIt stands out now, but probably didn’t when it was new, as a butcher’s shop with dwelling space on the second floor for the butcher and his family. “The mitzgerei, built in the classic German fachwerk style, utilizing heavy timber framing, was established in 1903,” writes Vince Michael. “Today it is the home of the Sullivan Law firm. It is a fine example of the early German immigrant construction that at one time was quite common throughout the Old Town Neighborhood.”

There’s a broader context, of course. The AIA Guide to Chicago tells us that Old Town “was settled by German produce farmers, who were numerous enough to establish St. Michael’s parish in 1852. After the devastation of the Fire of 1871, wooden cottages sprang up to house the homeless. Most of the ‘relief shanties’ are long gone… The area remained heavily German throughout the following decades, and by 1900, North Ave. as far west as Halstead St. was known as German Broadway.”

Maunday Thursday Misc.

A good Easter to all. Back on Easter Monday, which is a holiday in a fair number of countries, so why not here? Or at least something like in Buffalo, which seems to celebrate a thing called Dyngus Day.

The other day I noticed that I’ve nearly made 1,000 postings here. Not quite, but getting there. WordPress helpfully tells me the Top 10 Categories (out of 15, not counting Uncategorized) among all those posts.

Been There (526)
History (227)
Entertainment (160)
Over the Transom (152)
Public Art (105)
Food & Beverage (102)
Weather (100)
Family (83)
Holidays (66)
News (65)

I guess it’s fitting that Been There is first. It’s in the title, after all. Over the Transom is a little tricky: that’s any fool thing that comes my way without any plan, so it covers a lot of ground. Otherwise, I won’t put much stock in the ranking. For instance, I’ve posted more about weather than my family, but that hardly means I care more about the weather than them.

This made me laugh. Jonah Goldberg on the Trump administration: “I feel like I’m watching a Fellini movie without subtitles: I have no idea what’s going on.”

Here are some things young women get up to in Brooklyn. Or did in 2011.

Something to see in Denver. For the colorful art work, of course.

And maybe there is something new under the sun.

Improve Your Manroot

This morning I started getting a large volume of unwanted, unsolicited email in the account I use most. I’ve always gotten some, but for some reason the count swelled suddenly – and all of it promised to help me swell myself. Why now? Can’t say. And who is it that answers email like that, much less spends money because it? I especially can’t fathom that mystery.

I would use the conventional term for this kind of mail, which is the same as a famed canned meat product well-loved in Polynesia. But immediately after I used that word in a posting in 2012, the previous BTST started to go haywire. Probably a coincidence, but I’m not going to press my luck.

So I set the s-filter for the first time, though I’ve had the address for years. I’ve been reluctant to do that because I don’t want useful correspondence caught in the filter. But the latest deluge is ridiculous. The settings didn’t give me the option of blocking anything with certain words in the subject line, such as “penis.” No useful email is going to have that in the subject line, I think.

A Bit of Random Mencken

Most of the snow is gone, as expected, though pockets remain in shady spots. Temps are supposed to be as high as 60 F over the weekend, though, and that’ll return us completely to November brown.

Books are being re-arranged downstairs in a major way, and today I opened my copy of The American Language (Fourth Edition, 1936) at random, which is a good way to approach that work. Picked at random, page 211:

“The majority of the numerous Spanish loan-words in American came in before the Civil War, but the Spanish-American War added insurrecto, trocha, junta, ladrone, incommunicado, ley fuga, machete, mañana, and rurale, some of which are already obsolete; and the popularity of Western movies and fiction has brought in a few more, e.g., rodeo, hoosegow (from juzgado, the past participle of juzgar, to judge) and wrangler (from caballerango, a horse-groom), and greatly increased the use of others,” Mencken writes. “Chile con carne did not enter into the general American dietary until after 1900. The suffix –ista came in during the troubles in Mexico, following the downfall of Porfirio Díaz in 1911.”

Barista, in fact, is borrowed from Italian, but fashionista is patterned after Sandinista. Mencken wasn’t referring to that, however, and he doesn’t say what -ista word he’s thinking of from the 1910s, rather than the 1980s, when (I think) fashionista was coined, as Clintonista was in the 1990s.

One more language-related item. I didn’t know that some Germans were so touchy about Anglicisms in German. Golly, you’d think they were French.

Mommy SEO! Our Limited Supply is Very Nearly Gone

More rain through the night. It’s a good to be in a dry bed, drifting off to sleep, at times like that. The day was classic November gray.

The following arrived in the in box of an email system one of my clients lets me use. I dislike getting anything in that in box not related to the work I do for them, because the incoming volume’s high and it’s all too easy to lose track of something useful. So this is pretty much the definition of useless clutter, as far as I’m concerned:

I specialize in driving new traffic through Google+1 public backlinks and social network activity. I am a Mommy Blogger with a large Mommy Blogger network. If you have a website or product that fits well with Mommy Bloggers I can drive Mommy Blogger traffic your way in mass.

I would love to work with you and prove the results firsthand. To showcase my work I am glad to offer a one time [sic] package of 20 Google+1 backlinks or 100 new Facebook Likes to a website of your choice FREE of charge. You can visit my Mommy Blogger SEO website here…

Most of the men who went off to the goldfields in California or the Yukon or Australia or wherever didn’t make much, if any, money. The fellow who got rich sold them equipment and provisions.

Spring Break

Had a weird interlude recently during which this entire blog vanished. Found some 404s and one of those ads offering the domain name for sale. That was unnerving. Then it came back, as if nothing had happened. (And what happened? I like to imagine some guy tripping over a cord at a server farm on Malta.) For all its faults in the end, Blogger never did that. Guess the lesson is, don’t run your mouth for years and years at any one site.

And do some backup. Also: if you’re look for this site and it’s gone, it isn’t because I pulled the plug.

But enough of the mechanics of Internet posting. That’s like telling someone else about your dreams: dull, unless they’re in them, and I’m not sure how someone else would be involved in my posting.

This year, spring break for the school-aged among us coincides with Holy Week, and I have much to do so that I don’t have to do as much as usual next week. Back again around April 1 — Easter Monday, which we ought to have as a holiday, as many other countries do. We could secularize the name, if that would make it more palatable.