Ghosts of Baltimore: Thoughts from the Dugout

Image of Chris DavisI was going to write about a fun feature that MLB will be doing for the All Star game this year – having fans vote for the four greatest players of each individual franchise, in addition to the four greatest living players, four greatest old time stars, and four greatest Negro League players. It was set to be a fun column.

And then this happened…

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The People We Know

It’s hard to believe how many people you get to know throughout your whole life. I mean like really get to know. They float through our vision like a love we may never feel or a flavor that remains unknown. We know they are present; always present. But once they cease to exist, we seem to long for them more than before. There’s an absence that’s hard to explain and yet it’s so obvious. We should have known all along. The lives and people we strive for seem apparent to the lucky ones. The rest of us are left wishing we had hoped just a little bit more once they’re gone.

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Check out Square Roots

chill night, right?I know the best place in town to hear music and try literally dozens of beers, and it is not Taste of Chicago. Tonight, I checked out the Square Roots Festival in Lincoln Square, and it was awesome. The Square Roots Festival runs from Friday, July 11 through Sunday, July 13, and you (yes, you) should check it out. Despite getting there shortly after 8:00 p.m., music was pumping out of the north stage and there were hundreds of people in the street between Montrose and Wilson on Lincoln Ave. Most of the vendors were still open, including an amazing line up of food trucks, tents, and…oh, right, the beer: Fifteen primarily local breweries each with at least two of their lineup for you to try.

Most street festivals and art shows in Chicago put forth the same line up of art vendors, and this festival isn’t much different, save that a number of local vendors from Lincoln Square have tents offering their wares. A score of local restaurants have food stations lining the street, including Lincoln Square favorites Bistro Campagne, Fountainhead, Gather, and Cheesie’s Pub.

Music, however, is the biggest draw for the festival, proceeds from which will help support the Old Town School of Folk (full disclosure: I take guitar lessons at the school). Tonight,  Joe Driscoll & Sekou Kouyate were creating amazing African/hip hop/reggae awesomeness (that’s a thing, right?) to a crowd of well over two hundred. They were followed by Ivan & Alyosha, a Seattle based group with a fantastic name (any other Literature geeks get the reference?), a remarkably upbeat folk band whose album I’ll be purchasing as soon as my bank account will allow. Tomorrow’s headliner is Bobby Bare, Jr’s Young Criminals Starvation League. You can check out “Valentine” on YouTube.

Folk and World Music bands aren’t the only acts getting stage time. Old Town offers a number of awesome music ensembles and classes. Sunday will feature their Brazilian Folk Ensemble with Paulinho Garcia (5:00-5:45 p.m); visitors can try out their African Dance (1:30 – 2:30 p.m) or Flamenco classes (2:45- 3:45 p.m), or just hang out and watch Aloft Circus Arts (8:00 – 8:30 p.m). If you want to catch up with Travis and me, you’ll find us in the 2nd Half Guitar Jam (1:30 – 2:15 p.m).

There’s always something to do on summer weekends in Chicago. There’s a street fest happening almost every weekend, and this weekend there’s Taste of Chicago to compete with as well. If you want over-crowded places with absurd food prices and too many tourists, go to Taste. If you want a chill atmosphere, great beers, and an amazing musical experience, then go to Square Roots.

Why Anthony Trollope Would Take John Boehner to Heel


The older I get and the more life experience I obtain, the more life imitates art…in rare cases the stories I imagine telling come true (more on that fifty years from now or when some of the principals are dead), but more specifically I see the ideas, hopes, and fears of past generations manifest in our reality. Above all, the work of Anthony Trollope (1815-1882) seems to be the most prescient.

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What You Are About To See Has Never Been Seen Before the Human Eye!: In Memory of Ray Harryhausen


There’s quite a lot that has to happen for me to truly mourn the passing of a celebrity, an artist, or a noteworthy figure in popular culture. Quite often, the problem for me is that “celebrity” naturally inspires a distance between myself and the noted member of society. It’s sad for me to realize that I’ll never read another Roger Ebert review, never get to listen to a new track by Levon Helm, or that Stan “the Man” Musial has joined the ranks of the great All-Star team in the sky. It’s natural to feel some sense of loss, and to gain a true appreciation for what they’ve done. (Check out my colleague’s touching tribute to the late Mr. Ebert here, to whom all of us at the Recorder are deeply indebted to.) More often than not, however, it’s only a momentary blip in the never-ending stream that is life. It’s sad to know that Whitney Houston has passed away, but in the end, I’ll still dance like a fool to “I Wanna Dance With Somebody” without thinking more on the subject than “hmm…she’s passed away…we’re all getting old.”

And then I came home from work today to discover that Ray Harryhausen has passed away.

Somebody like Harryhausen is not a well-recognized name in the general lexicon of popular culture. He didn’t discover a cure for a disease, he didn’t play quarterback for the Cowboys, and he never had a #1 Single on the Billboard Top 40. He did headline several movies of his own, but we’ll get to that in a second.

No, what he did was to provide hope, inspiration, and a wave of dreams for countless people the world over.

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The Way of the Future: Jason Collins and Sexual Orientation in America


I had a violently angry article primed and ready to go for this afternoon here at the Recorder, one that discusses the eroding values of our culture that have been showcased over the last few weeks by the tragedies in Boston, one that snarls and might be the angriest thing I’ve ever written.

Then I went to work and turned on ESPN and heard about Jason Collins’ announcement that he is “a 34 year old center,[…] black, [and] gay.” In light of the significance of this announcement, yelling about Twitter, ignorance, and racial stereotyping in modern America seemed…well…petty.

I would like to lead off that we here at the Addison Recorder are proud of Jason Collins, that we respect and support him, and that we are especially glad to see that his decision to come out has been WIDELY EMBRACED by a litany of public figures, both within the sporting world and outside of with.

(I will also readily admit that I am not a big enough aficionado of the NBA to be able to identify who Jason Collins was. My first response when I heard that an athlete came out this morning was “Wow, that’s awesome!…..who does he play for?” Immediately followed by “What position? Center? Halfback? Are the Wizards even a team anymore?” Needless to say, I’m not proud of myself.)

The best thing about Collins’ coming out is that it was immediately usurped in the news by Tim Tebow being cut by the New York Jets.

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