A Flying Egg

At about 11:15 pm on Saturday, I was driving Ann home from a friend’s house, headed south on a four-lane street here in the northwest suburbs, in the lane closest to the curb on the passenger side. Traffic was light. Suddenly, we heard a loud THUMP from direction of the passenger side.

Immediately the driver’s thoughts — my thoughts, that is — turned to, what did I hit? But only a few seconds later Ann told me she saw egg on the window. Later, I determined that an egg had hit the door, probably just below the window. No damage, but some eggish goo was left behind, with a few bits of shell.

Eggs aren’t know to fly. Must have been a random act by some young wankers, wasting their parents’ eggs. Better than getting hit by a rock, I suppose, or something much worse. That hasn’t happened to me, luckily, but years ago someone unseen bombarded my car with a water balloon.

Mail From the Patel Brothers

Something new in the mail the other day: a circular from Patel Brothers. The grocery stores of theirs that I’ve seen have the appearance of being local — tucked away in strip centers — but in fact Patel Brothers is a national chain, with about 50 stores. The brand did start in Chicago, however, with its first store on Devon Ave., hub of the city’s East Indian population, in the 1970s.

Patel BrothersThe four-page circular has one of our names on it, so it’s more than a blind mass mailing. Chinese New Year is mentioned on the front page. Guess the Patels are looking to expand their market a bit.

On the back page, various East Asian items are offered, such as Ichiban Tofu, Sriracha sauce, TYJ spring roll pastry and Chaokoh coconut water. Looking up that last one further, I learned that the Thai product is the “Official Coconut Water Partner of Liverpool Football Club.”

Inside the circular, the products are more South Asian. From it I learn that Swad brand is popular. Apparently that’s an Indian food distributor headquartered in Kerala, but its web site is less than helpful when it comes to offering much information about the company.

The About Us page says, all sic: “Catering to gods own people is no mean task. We embraced this challenge with great enthusiasm and with Swad Food Products, a well known house hold brand name in India. We make available premium Wheat & Rice Products all over the world. Our products are available all over the world through more than hundred strong distributors. Our Product Quality agreed internationally by getting orders from Middle East, Europe and USA.”

Anyway, at Patel Brothers, you can buy Swad peanuts, cashews, salt, moong dal, whole moong, kidney beans, kabuli chana, turmeric powder, ghee, rice flour and canola oil.

Cricket in the Northwest ’Burbs

On Saturday as I walked the dog through the park and school grounds behind my house, I saw a group of about 15 men on the elementary school blacktop. From a distance, I thought they were playing baseball, which would be a little odd. Then again, the recent rains froze in the ground and then melted enough during the last few days to make the ground squishy, which would render the ball fields in the park a little difficult for a game.

Then I noticed they were playing cricket. A pick-up game of cricket, you could say, since the pitch was clearly improvised, and I don’t think there were enough of them to field 11 players on each team (one of the few facts that I know about cricket). (And that Don Bradman was the greatest cricket player, according to an Australian I knew who insisted on that point.)

I’d never seen anyone playing cricket in that park. Cricket pitches were common enough in places like England and Australia, built into the urban parks in those countries, and I remember wandering by such places and seeing cricket players do whatever it is they do. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen anyone play cricket in North America, though I know that people do.

For instance, Vanderbilt had a cricket team whose picture was always in the yearbook, and every jack man of them was of East Indian heritage. As were the men playing in the park on Saturday.

Thursday Loose Ends

While the Northeast is buried under snow, I look out onto a patch of northern Illinois — my yard — that’s brown. The heavy snow of December gave way to a moderate January, by local standards, and all the white went away. It’s cold out there, but it doesn’t look like February, which is usually marked by unmelted snow in some spots, or at least in the shadows.

I noticed the other day that My Favorite Martian was on demand, so I watched the first episode. I don’t have much memory of its original airing, from 1963 to ’66, and I don’t remember seeing it in syndication, so it’s essentially new to me. Verdict: mildly amusing at times, mostly because Ray Walston and Bill Bixby had some comic talent. But I don’t think I need to watch many more episodes, thus putting it in the same class as Mister Ed or Leave it to Beaver.

Reading a bit about the show, I learned that Bill Bixby’s full name was Wilfred Bailey Everett Bixby III. In our time, that would be the original name of a hip-hop star. Also, just before he died, he married Judith Kliban, widow of B. Kliban.

Hadn’t thought about B. Kliban in years. Didn’t know he was dead, but he has been since 1990. Somewhere at my mother’s house (I think) are collections of his cartoons that I bought. One is called Never Eat Anything Bigger Than Your Head. Words to live by.

At a magazine rack in a big box store not long ago, I saw a copy of Rolling Stone. I was shocked. It was so thin you could put it in a box and use it for Kleenex. The magazine was also standard size, or smaller, not the tabloid that by rights it should be. It was like running into an old acquaintance who’s now dying of a wasting disease. Guess its real presence is online now anyway.

“Acquaintance” because I never read Rolling Stone that much. Not all together my kind of magazine. But I would pick it up and look at in doctors’ offices or from friends’ coffee tables or the like. And I have to say it often had interesting covers, even if they depicted celebrity musicians I cared nothing about.

Last Friday, I dropped by the visit the Friendship Park Conservatory, a small conservatory that’s part of the Mount Prospect Park District. Nice to see some green now, even if the pit of winter this year isn’t too deep.

Friendship Park Conservatory, Mount Prospect

Friendship Park Conservatory, Mount Prospect

The last time I remember being there was in late summer, when it was green outside the conservatory as well as inside. Back in 2005. The girls were a lot smaller then.

Friendship Park Conservatory, Mount ProspectEarly this week, Junk King paid a visit to a house on my block.
I’d heard of the company, but never seen one of its distinctive red trucks before.

The Flight 191 Memorial, Des Plaines

After lunch on Friday, I realized I was fairly close to the Flight 191 Memorial, so I went to take a look. It might be February, and it definitely was cold, but the sky was sunny and the ground without any ice or slush to wade through.

I remember hearing about the crash, which happened the week before I graduated from high school. Probably most people old enough to understand what had happened remember hearing about it, so terrible was the accident. Almost 38 years later, it’s still the worst U.S. aviation accident in terms of fatalities, 273, unless you count all the crashes on Sept. 11, 2001 together, but those were no accidents.

The memorial is tucked away in a park in the large suburb of Des Plaines. From a distance, the site is unassuming, between the road and a jogging path.

Flight 191 Memorial, Lake Park, Des Plaines 2017

I imagine that most people driving by on Touhy Ave. just to the south of the site don’t know it’s there. Closer up, the memorial reveals itself. It’s a low wall with names of the victims inscribed, one to each brick.

Flight 191 Memorial, Des Plaines ILFlight 191 Memorial, Des Plaines ILFor a long time, more than 30 years, there was no memorial to AA 191 anywhere. In 2011, the Chicago Tribune reported that the effort to build a memorial “started with [Kim] Jockl, an assistant principal at Decatur Classical School in Chicago’s West Rogers Park neighborhood whose former students learned she had lost her parents on the Los Angeles-bound flight.

“The group pushed for two years to build the memorial. Finally, American Airlines agreed to foot the $21,500 cost, according to officials at the ceremony, and a location for the memorial was found inside Lake Park in Des Plaines.”

A plaque mounted on a short pole behind the wall says:

WE REMEMBER FLIGHT 191

Let us not forget the victims of May 25, 1979, who helped assure the safety of all who have boarded an airliner since that tragic event.

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.” — Author Unknown

A special thanks to all who helped make this memorial possible, especially: Decatur Classical School, Chicago Public Schools; US Representative Jan Schakowsky; IL State Sentator Dan Kotowski; the Des Plaines Park District; American Airlines; Project Citizen; Thomas A.Demetrio; Constitutional Rights Foundation Chicago; Center for Civic Education; and Nilco, Inc.

Katsudon

I had lunch with an old friend on Friday at the food court of Mitsuwa, a small Japanese-oriented mall anchored by the grocery store of that name in northwest suburban Arlington Heights. We had a good visit. The food is quite good there. I had some katsudon, a Japanese creation with pork cutlet and egg and a small amount of vegetables on rice, and long a favorite of mine among Japanese eats.

There’s a tiny restaurant off an alley in the Namba district of Osaka simply called Katsudon (or rather, カツ丼). It seated maybe eight at a counter looking straight into the small area in which two cooks made katsudon, the only thing on the menu, in gleaming copper-bottomed vessels. It wasn’t especially expensive and it tasted like heaven.

In fact, the place offered up the Platonic Ideal of the katsudon, as far as I’m concerned. All katsudon of the material sphere yearn to be that form. They inch toward it, but never quite make it. In short, the one at Mitsuwa was very good, but not as good as Katsudon, at least as it was 25 years ago. Hope the quality’s been maintained.

I had to look around to make the sure that the restaurant is still in business. I found some pictures, and it even looks like I remember it. Seems like the joint now also offers the related dishes of tonkatsu — cutlet on a bed of chopped lettuce — katsucurry, which is the cutlet on top of curry rice. Bet those are top-drawer, too.

I also noticed that the name of the alley is Hozenjiyokocho. I’m not sure I knew that back then. According to one source, the alley is a “collection of 60 small izakaya, bars and eateries in an alleyway behind Hozenji Temple in Osaka. The street has been filled with nightlife since the 17th century, when the area was a theater district.”

As for the nearby image of the kami Fudo Myo-o, which is covered with moss, I must have seen that. That’s the kind of thing I would notice. But I don’t remember.

What I need now is a specialized Tardis, one that takes you to your favorite restaurants, past or present, closed or still operating. Katsudon in Hozenjiyokocho would be such one place, since my tastes run to the inexpensive.

Off the top of my head, other destinations would include O-Sho, also in Osaka, which made wonderful gyoza; River Kwai in Chicago; Mack’s Country Cooking and Loveless Cafe as they used to be in Nashville; the Daily Catch in Boston; Viet Nam in San Antonio; that place in Apalachicola; that other place in New Orleans; the Cuban place in Tampa; Pizza Rustica and Mario’s in Rome; that fish-and-chips spot on Cleveland Street in London; halbes Hähnchen mit Pommes frites in Lüneburg; and yet other establishments whose names I’ve forgotten in New York, Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali and other places.

First Thursday in February Misc.

The only good thing about the beginning of February is that January is over.

A picture from this moment in history.

Ann was with me, and I had take this shot with her phone. The car was in a northwest suburban parking lot.

Speaking of cars in parking lots, as I was walking the dog the other day, I passed through the parking lot in front of Lilly and Ann’s former elementary school, and saw a Tesla parked there. As if were any other car. Which I guess it is. Still, I can’t remember seeing one around here before. New, they’ll set you back at least $68,000. So you don’t see too many.

I had no idea the French used the suffix -gate as we do. Headline from today’s La Parisien about the hot water that François Fillon, candidate for the presidency, is in: Penelope Gate: toutes les fois où l’épouse de Fillon disait ne pas travailler pour lui. Are there Frenchmen who think the real scandal is that obvious anglicisme being used to describe it? A silly objection. English has borrowed plenty of French; time to give something back.

One more item out at St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery, near the church: a memorial to Gen. Dragoljug Mihailovich, the Chetnik commander whom Tito ultimately had shot after the war.

Gen. Dragoljug Mihailovich memorial

Whatever else you can say about him — and apparently that’s quite a lot, for good and ill — President Truman did award him a Legion of Merit (Chief Commander) posthumously in 1948, the text of which is on the memorial in English and Serbian. It cites his efforts in rescuing U.S. airmen downed over Yugoslavia.

The Church of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava

Next to the the cemetery of the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Monastery in Lake County, which I visited on Saturday, is a handsome church building belonging to the monastery. There’s something about onion domes that pleases the eye.

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava

Even without the domes, the structure has a pleasing aspect to it. The cornerstone dates the building to 1925. Back then there couldn’t have been much around it besides farmland. Even now, the area nearby is mostly undeveloped.

I fully expected the building to be locked. It wasn’t. I went inside and found myself alone with its striking interior, albeit a little dark.

The church of St. Sava Monastery, Lake County Ill.A panoply of Jesus and saints and holy men — I assume that’s what I saw — graced pretty much every surface.

The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaThe Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaAngles and demons, too.
The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaLooking up.
The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. SavaKing Peter II of Yugoslavia used to be interred in the church. Here’s the spot where he was until a few years ago.
The Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava - King Peter II former gravePresumably the place is now a memorial to the king, marked with black stone instead of the white that used to be there.

I suspect that Peter’s story isn’t much known to Americans outside the Yugoslav diaspora. I only knew the outline, so I did some reading. Already on the throne, he was chased out of Yugoslavia at age 17 by the Nazis in 1941, and the post-war Tito government wasn’t interested in letting him return.

He spend much of his exile in the U.S., dying fairly young in 1970. For his own reasons, he wanted to be buried at St. Sava. Probably something to do with the schism going on within the Serbian Orthodox Church at the time, but I’m not going into the briar patch someone else’s schism by looking into the matter further. In any case, his son Alexander oversaw the repatriation of Peter’s remains to Serbia in 2013.

My reading lead me to the web site of the Royal Family of Serbia, which is how Alexander, the claimant to the throne, styles it. It’s a well-designed and sophisticated site, offering a lot of information about Alexander — who styles himself HRH Crown Prince Alexander — and his family.

“Although King Peter II died in 1970, the Crown Prince, as the heir to the throne decided at the time not to use the title of King – which he felt would have had little meaning in exile,” the site explains. “He made it very clear at that time that he was not renouncing his title, or the dynastic right to the throne.”

Unlike a lot of pretenders, Alexander and his family actually get to live in the palace of their ancestors, which is near Belgrade and which his grandfather built. He’s had a residence there since moving to then-Yugoslavia after the overthrow of Slobodan Milošević.

The web site’s news page is incredibly detailed, with hundreds of releases about the family’s activities stretching back a number of years. Some recent examples:

More than 1,200 children at traditional White Palace Christmas receptions

Royal couple at the celebration of the Chartwell International School

Crown Princess Katherine as the patron of the first regional Veuve Clicquot Business Woman Award

Speech by Crown Prince Alexander at the monument of Vasa Carapic

Crown Prince Alexander at Military Museum exhibition opening

It occurs to me that Alexander is living precisely as he would, were he actually a constitutional monarch, and pretty much along the lines of the British approach (he grew up in the UK, after all, and was a captain in the 16th/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers). No doubt he believes that if he acts like a monarch long enough and well enough, one day he or an heir will be King of Serbia.

The Cemetery of the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava, Lake County

After leaving Marytown on Saturday, I headed north on Milwaukee Ave. A few miles from of Libertyville’s lively main streets, in an area not quite rural — call it exurban — is the St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery. At least, that’s a shortened form of the name, since there’s wording in English and Serbian over a gate on the property that calls the entire property (in English), the Serbian Orthodox Monastery of St. Sava.

Near the cemetery is a church, presumably the monastery’s church (more about which later). I didn’t investigate any of the other buildings off in the distance, which are presumably the places for monks to live and otherwise follow their vocation. The map also tells me that St. Sava College is a little ways up the road.

Anyway, I came to see the cemetery. It’s been receiving Orthodox Serbs for about 90 years. The place is thick with weighty headstones.

St. Sava Serbian Orthodox Cemetery

With a mix of Cyrillic and Roman lettering.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeteryThere’s little funerary art, as seen in cemeteries steeped in Western European traditions, unless you count variations on the Cross. A few stones told in some detail of the person at rest, at least if you read Serbian.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeterySome sites included wooden crosses along with stone markers. A few had no headstone at all.

Some stones are of a distinctly modern cast, and in English.
St. Sava Serbian Orthodox CemeteryI’ve read that Rod Blagojevich’s parents are in the cemetery, but I didn’t see their stone that I know of. Blago was recently in the news briefly for not being on President Obama’s commutation list during his last days in office. Tough luck, Rod. Politics ain’t beanbag.

Marytown

Everyone else had something to do Saturday afternoon, so I took advantage of the fact that winter isn’t particularly bitter right now — and neither snow nor ice is covering the ground — to buzz up to Lake County, Ill., for a few hours. I wanted to visit a spot on the map there I’ve seen for years but never gotten around to: Marytown. Or, the National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe.

A Polish Franciscan, St. Maximilian Kolbe was murdered by the Nazis. We’d come across a memorial to him before, at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Monastery in Munster, Ind. There he was a supporting player, so to speak. At Marytown, he’s the star of the show, after only Jesus and Mary.

The Marytown complex includes a Franciscan friary, a retreat and conference center, various outdoor shrines and a rosary garden, and a gift shop (where I bought postcards). It’s also home to the Marytown Press and is the American HQ for the movement that St. Maximilian Kolbe started, the Militia Immaculata.

For the purpose of my visit, however, Marytown is home to Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament. That’s what I’d heard was worth seeing, and it was. Here’s the exterior.

Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of the Most Blessed Sacrament - MarytownThe chapel, completed in 1930, was designed by architect Joseph W. McCarthy, who trained under Daniel Burnham and did a lot of Catholic churches in the Chicago area. I’ve read it was patterned after St. Paul’s Outside the Walls in Rome.

“The Benedictine Convent of Perpetual Adoration in Mundelein, known today as Marytown, was a special project of Cardinal George Mundelein, meant to keep alive the spirit of the 1926 Chicago Eucharistic Conference and provide for the spiritual needs of diocesan priests and seminarians at the newly built seminary next door,” writes Denis Robert McNamara in Heavenly City: The Architectural Tradition of Catholic Chicago.

This is the interior of the main chapel, as best as I could make an image. A fine combination of stained glass, mosaics and marble.
Adoration Chapel of Our Lady of t Most Blessed Sacrament, Marytown“The Benedictine Sisters maintained unbroken adoration of the Blessed Sacrament until they withdrew from the location in 1977, handing the complex over to the Conventual Franciscan Friars,” McNamara writes. “The Franciscans renamed the site Marytown and established the national shrine of St. Maxmilian Kolbe…”

One of the Adoration Chapel’s side chapels features is a mosaic stretching toward the ceiling of St. Maximilian Kolbe rising triumphant from Auschwitz. Right below it are some relics of his, which include beard hair — cut some years before he died in a place that would leave no earthly remains — a piece of a habit, a prayer book.

Outside the chapel, in the garden nearby, St. Francis makes an appearance in bronze, unsurprisingly, singing the Canticle of the Sun.

St Francis - Marytown

With a non-human audience.

St. Francis - Marytown

There are some other statues nearby and a rosary garden, which I’ve never encountered before. Or maybe never realized I’d encountered one before, since they seem to be fairly common.

MarytownMuch of the statuary was short on labels, so I’m not certain who this is supposed to be, though I’d guess an older St. Francis.