Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Comics - 2 - Movies!

The best thing I like about Hollywood is the range of movies it offers … comedy, romance, tragedy, thriller, mystery, horror, noir, inspirational, war, sports, sci-fi ... And today I’m writing on COMIC–BOOKS that make it as Hollywood blockbusters!!!

Yesterday I saw “X-MEN: The Last Stand” – a greatly entertaining movie!!!
It almost created a record, grossing about $45 million on the opening day on Friday; to become the second largest opening ever ; just behind “Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith”!!! Another much-awaited release due this summer is “Superman Returns” ...

... which made me think … what makes the comic-book movies tick?

Before I proceed further, here’s a list of comic-book based movies …
Spiderman, Superman, Catwoman, The Hulk, Men-In-Black, Sin City, V-for Vendetta, Fantastic Fours, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, The Mask and then of course X-Men series … [There should be more ...]

Now coming back to the popularity of comic-book movies …

# Is it the special effects? The advancement in Computer Generated Imaging [CGI] makes it impossible to distinguish between an actor-in-costume and a computer-generated-image; adding life to make-belief characters and their next-to-impossible stunts.

# Or is it the thrills? As most comic-based adaptations are high-action dramas where there’s always a race against time to protect some innocent victim against a calculating cold blooded villain; keeping the audience over the edge of their seats. I remember the scene when the spiderman heroically leaped into a burning building to rescue a child and the audience heaved a collective sigh of relief!

# Another important factor making these as popular summer blockbusters are their family-oriented storylines. So during the summer vacations moms-n-dads can have some quality fun-time with their kids and enjoy popcorn-&-soda watching movies which at the same time imparts some moral lessons … like victory of “good over evil” without sounding preachy about it!

# Or is it the nostalgia … of seeing the favorite school-time comic-books caricatures, now in flesh–n- blood or watching stories they had once enjoyed with their parents.

# Though all of the above factors contribute to the popularity of comic-book movies; but none of these will work unless there is an emotional connection with the audience ... Emotional connection is the most important element, I think! The comic-book characters are fictitious but have real feelings of joy, pain, triumph, failure & tragedy.. These characters may have super abilities but they grapple with the same age-old moral dilemmas that normal people face … sometimes getting stuck between the devil and the deep sea where they got to choose the lesser of the two evils. Now these are the situations with which we connect immediately.

The X-men are mutants [which is entirely plausible]. They have to defend themselves against their own types of “terrorist” mutants [how contemporary!!! ] and also from humans who want to “cure” them. Batman watched his parents gunned down and now takes upon himself to protect the innocents from crime committed against them. Men in Black [MiB] are representatives of a secret agency which monitors the aliens on our planet and instead of threatening or intimidating people use “neutralizers” to wipe off memories of chance encounter with aliens. Very interesting and makes me wonder if that ever happened to me? In fact there is a large section[or say small-section] of American population who not only believe in aliens but claim to have alien abduction experience. My all-time favorite comic-book movie is “Spiderman”. I loved both One and Two!! A lab-accident results in supernatural powers making a guy-next-door Tobey Maguire into a super strength Spiderman!

# Then of course the comic-book characters have the most fascinating heroes and even more interesting villains. Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones shine as “Men in Black” , Christopher Reeves is the ultimate “Superman” and Jim Carrey is a loser bank clerk until he accidentally gets “The Mask” ! Not to forget those gorgeous female lead characters … Jessica Alba & Brittany Murphy in the “Sin City”, Cameron Diaz in “The Mask”, Kristen Dunst in “Spiderman”, Alicia Silverstone in “Batman & Robin”, Jennifer Connelly in “The Hulk” and Halle Berry as the Catwoman!

# But much more complex than the protagonists the characters of the villains ... Mostly they have good enough reasons to be whatever they are … Like mutant “Magneto” [Sir Ian McKellen] in X-men is a victim of Holocaust who wants to destroy Homo Sapiens before they destroy the mutants. One of my all-time favorite bad-man is “Doctor Octopus” in “Spiderman –II”. He as in fact a good man, a mentor; before getting transformed into a complicated DocOck! One of the most nauseating was “the Yellow Bastard” [what an apt name!!!] in “Sin City”, a pedophile who is the son of a powerful senator!

# To add to all this, comic-based movies are fantasies providing an escape from too much of reality around us. It fires our imagination and people love it!

Any or all these factors contribute to making comic-books as one of the most popular genre of Hollywood movies. Now I wanted to make a short analysis on what makes comic-book movies so popular, but the post has become too long … AND I got so much more on my mind to write. But I think it’s best to stop here … with a question...

Do you like comic-book movies? If yes, which is your favorite one ....

* My all time favorite : Spiderman [both I & II]
Though I've liked many others ... X-men, Men in Black, Sin City, V for Vendetta, The Hulk, Fantastic Four, The Mask ...

Lemme end with a song that's been on my mind ... as I was writing this ..
" Spider-man, Spider-man ... Friendly neighborhood Spider-man
Wealth and fame, he's ignored .. Action is his reward ... Spider-man Spider-man ... "

Monday, May 29, 2006

A flash of thought

This is not a regular post, it's just for the record …

May 29th 2006 ...
About 20 days ago, ie on May 10th I had a flash of thought to *organize* the photos of the flowers I had been taking … and to put them separately in the "Green Thumb" Blog rather than putting along with other photos in "My Photo Journal" ... That time I had never imagined that in less than 20 days, there will be more than 100 entries in the “Green Thumb”!
To be exact .. 20 days ... 105 entries ... of about 230 photos!!!
Definitely not a cakewalk but worth every effort and I enjoyed it!
Thanks to all those who stopped by and took out time to drop a comment ... it was an encouragement!

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List of flowers in the Green Thumb Blog .....
Annuals: Cosmos, Geraniums, Pansy, Viola, Fuschia, Gerbera, Impatiens, Petunia, Calibrachoa, Periwinkle, Verbena, Marigold, Ivy ...

Perennials: Clematis, Daisy, Peony, Lilac, lavender, Weigela, Hydrangea, Hibiscus, Bleeding Hearts, Phlox, Salvia / Sage, Dianthus, Columbines, Trillium, Mandevilla, Siberian squills, Virginia Bluebells ...

Bulbs: Iris, Lilies, Dahlia, Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths/Muscari, Crocus ...

Lilies: Daylily, Peace lily, Lily-of-the-valley, Lily-of-the-Nile ...

Hedges / shrubs / bushes : Hydrangea, Hibiscus, Peony, Weigela, Lilac, Rhododendrons/Azaleas, Crabapple, Rosebud tree, Cherry Blossoms, Forsythia, Magnolia, Dogwood tree ...

Trees: Heliconia, Sassafras, Maple, Willow, Mimosa ...
Evergreens: Pine, Fir, Spruce ...

Succulents ...
Orchids ...

Special: Red-hot cat's tail!!! Side-saddle (carnivores)!!!
Heliconia (tropical plant with interesting flower names ... crab-claws & lobster-claws)

There are some overlappings ...
* As Hydrangea belongs to two: categories: Perennials & Shrubs.
In fact all the bushes/shrubs are in fact perennials, though not all perennials are shrubs … like Phlox and Dianthus are small ground hugging flowers and Clematis are climbers …
** All lilies belong to the bulbs category … but, I’ve listed them separately ...
*** Similarly though I’ve listed evergreens separately they belong to the trees category ... and some hedges like Doogwood tree belongs to the tree category!

Monday, May 22, 2006

The week that was ....

The week that was ...
This post is a record of my *reflections* on one personal and one impersonal events that took place last week … No earth-shattering quakes! No mind-blowing dramas! No life-altering inspirations! No gritty determination ... BUT ... not totally irreverent either!


- Nic Robertson - a "war correspondent" - survived angry rebels in Sudan
- *I - a nobody - attended a birthday party

*** Self-evaluation: The post is extremely disjoint. But I dont have the energy to make it more cohesive. The post is more like an entry of my thoughts in a diary. But as against a personal diary, this web-page open to readers reactions ...

[1] The adrenaline rush …
“Courage is almost a contradiction in terms: it means a strong desire to live taking the form of readiness to die. "
- Gilbert K. Chesterton

Nic Robertson - CNN’s senior international correspondent - was in Sudan; which now-a-days is said to be the most dangerous place on earth, with genocide taking place. While he was there riots broke out and the car in which they were sitiing was attacked ...
In his words ...
"I don't know exactly what happened back there but suddenly the crowd got very angry with the man sitting next to me in this car now. They came after the car, they came after him with knives and they were beating the car with sticks, they were throwing rocks. The only thing we were able to do was drive out.”


This made me think ... What is a story worth? What makes some people charge headlong into the most dangerous places on the planet, where chances of getting wounded, kidnapped or killed is higher than the chances of pulling out unscathed.I am talking about “war correspondents” in general … Apart from Nic Robertson two other dare-devils I greatly admire are Kevin Sites and Christian Amanpour.

With technological advancements we now have the privilege of “real time” reporting with news channels indulging in round-the-clock coverage. Sometimes “breaking news” reach general public sooner than it reaches the concerned officials. But here I’m talking about the *journalists* who make this possible by reporting “live” from the hub of chaos, confusion and violence. I am so totally in awe with their nerve!!! What guts! What bravery! Words can’t encapsulate their courage. I don’t know what motivates them, what gives them the adrenaline rush? To report from the core of cataclysmic events … with exploding ammunitions, burning tanks, bodies of wounded and dead people around … and to be constantly aware of the fact their own lives are on tenterhooks and can snap any moment … BUT still ... to be reporting – is an action extraordinaire!! BRAVO!!! I remember seeing the live coverage of Persian Gulf War, NATO’s Kosovo bombing, Afghanistan strikes and now bombing in Iraq.
Hats off to “war correspondents”!!!

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[2] Passion and/or Addiction …
“ If we could live without passion, maybe we’d know some kind of peace … but we would be hollow … Empty room shuttered and dank. Without passion we’d be truly dead.”
- Joss Whedon

But what happens when a passion becomes an addiction? I realized that my passion for photography has become my addiction ... when I was at a birthday party this Saturday! I did not take my camera and I was constantly experiencing *withdrawal symptoms* … severe anxiety combined with graphic hallucination. In my mind I was creating images of the photos I could have taken had my camera been with me ... funky balloons, colorful gift-wraps and a few “gotcha”–type candid moments.

I don’t know if this passion /addiction good or bad ???!!

When I’m on this topic…
# My “Green Thumb” blog is being updated almost everyday.
# I’ve just started a “Simple joys of summer” series in “My Photo Journal” ...
Simple joys of summer - walking barefoot on the floor!
Chicago is still cold enough for jackets!

360 N Michigan Avenue: Chicago's first military post stood here

Last week, I posted another article on the website: “City spaces, city places”
Excerpts:

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The Municipal Flag of Chicago has four red stars on the center white stripe. The first red star represents Fort Dearborn. The building at 360 N Michigan Ave stands exactly on the spot where the historical Fort Dearborn once stood [1803-56]. It is the place from which the growth of city of Chicago began. It was the first government building to be built in Chicago – a U.S. Military Garrison – named after US Secretary of War, Henry Dearborn. Its purpose was to protect the settlers against attacks by Native Americans. It ushered in an era of peaceful trade in the area. It was destroyed in war with Great Britain [1812] and then rebuilt in 1816. However after the U.S. troops abandoned the Fort in 1837, it was torn down in 1858, and whatever remained was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1871.

The present building was built was for a British Insurance firm, London Guarantee and Accident Company.
Year built: 1922-23
Architect: Alfred S. Alschuler
Designated a Chicago landmark: 1996

This 22-story limestone structure is built in the Beaux Arts, or Classical Revival style, which flourished in Chicago from the 1890s to the 1920s. The main features of this building are:
1.It has a trapezoidal ground plan.
2.The central entrance is flanked by four elegantly carved Corinthian columns.
3.The first story is rusticated, which gives the facade a very grand look.
4.The wall surface has intricate carvings and sculptural ornamentation.
5.The center of the building has repeated window patterns.
6.The top three stories have rows of classical columns.
7.The top of the building has Greco-Roman "tempietto" – a domed rotunda supported by vertical columns.

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Read full text:
360 N Michigan Avenue, Chicago's first military post stood here ...

The website is City Spaces, city places ...

Monday, May 15, 2006

Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way

Not all days are equal!!!
Commodores sang … “Easy Like Sunday Morning” …
And Boomtown Rats grumbled … “Tell me why? I don’t like Mondays” …
And for me these two songs sum up my general feelings towards these two days rather well.

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So today is Monday and the week has indeed begun in a very unusual manner …
Early morning, the sky was overcast with dark gray clouds; but since it was not raining, I decided to venture out. For some inexplicable reason, I decided to take a different route. Instead of turning right from my home, I took a left-turn. As I was walking, I noticed something that I cant call normal. Though its routine to see 1-2 choppers hovering over the neighborhood, today I saw about 4-5 of them encircling the area ... Since the crime-rate in my area is next to nil, I thought maybe some movie-shooting is in progress.

Well within 10 minutes time I reached the huge departmental stores, Menards. It opens very early, ie at 6.30 am. I saw a man standing outside and we wished each other Good Morning, and started talking about the presence of unusually large number of copters in the area. Well he was as curious as me and came up with two possible explanations: [1] Engine Failure, OR [2] Accident.

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AND as we were talking, something truly outstanding happened. One chopper landed in the Menards parking space, as we were staring at it! It looked almost surreal. We were stunned! Despite being extremely inquisitive I was a bit wary about heading towards the craft. As my faithful friend, my camera was very much with me, I took a few long distance shots. Since the craft looked okay; it was obvious that nothing untoward had happened; so I decided to move on. However my eyes were fixed on it. I was moving towards the next store which is the 24-hour McDonalds outlet, I noticed two men walk out of the craft.

One of them looked at me and said in a very lively voice …
*HIM: Go ahead, you can take photographs …
ME: Really? Is it alright? I don’t want anyone to snatch my camera or be rude to me.
HIM: Ohh no! Don’t worry. Come along, I’ll take you.

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I was more than happy. So I walked along with him. He not only asked me to feel free to take photographs, but was courteous enough to open the door and show me the craft from inside. As the conversation progressed I learned that they were going for some TV program but experienced an engine failure. So they had to make an emergency landing. Since the Menards parking lot is huge and was empty; so they deiced to crash-land there. The Hoffman Estates police was quick to come to the site immediately. As we were talking; the technician also arrived. After taking a few photos I moved away from the site.

Actually two things had happened:
- The chopper that had landed had engine failure
- There also was an accident on I-90 and some police choppers were there for help.

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That explains 4-5 crafts in the area. At least the one I came across, nobody had any injuries. I met two extremely polite, cheerful and friendly pilots. So I don’t think if I could call it a bad beginning of the week … rather a very unusual one. One of those days that I will remember for sometime …

Another thought; that had I taken my usual route, I wouldn’t even have been aware of any of these. I donno why I changed my route today? I just know that I did! Now I only hope and wish that the rest of the week is full unexpected turns [literally as well as figuratively] and delightful anecdotes …

Monday Monday, can't trust that day,
Monday Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way
Oh Monday morning, you gave me no warning of what was to be
Oh Monday Monday, how could you leave and not take me.


Later I learned that *HIM - who took me to the chopper - is named Chris ...
So here's Chris ...

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Friday, May 12, 2006

The long and short of it ...

I saw it again today. A very charming young guy with lustrous golden hair neatly parted on the left side and stylishly hanging down his forehead ... so far so good but now is something that really annoys me ... his shiny blonde locks were shamelessly falling over one of his sparkling blue eyes!!! What’s with boys with bangs or fringes over their eyes??!!!?? Why would anyone in his right frame of mind choose to have such a skewed view of the beautiful world surrounding us by literally staring from behind the thick veil of dead protein?
Even the Beatles with famous fringes; had it removed from their eyes!

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The Long Routes:
Just to clarify any misconception; I have nothing against long hair. In fact I find them very interesting!. Some guys handle their long flowing mane so stylishly that it puts me to shame! I admire guys who can maintain ponytails [Samuel Jackson style] or braids [Willie Nelson style] … and I totally love dreadlocks [Bob Marley style] !! But what puts me off is – hair hovering over the eyes!!!

The shortcuts:
This summer I notice that men are expressing their strength NOT in the Samson’s way of uncut locks! This season the rage is of razor-cut super short hair. Few days back I was watching the movie “Jarhead”. I learned that the term Jarhead refers to Marines and is derived from the hairstyle they flaunt – “High and Tight” – in which hair is cut almost to the skin at the ears but is allowed to grow a fraction of an inch on the top of the head; giving the appearance of a jar. Well Jake Gyllenhaal looked really handsome in "high and Tight" jarhead style! I’ve seen that style flaunted by many around me and it looks rather cool. However a more popular style among the younger guys at my workplace is “Fade-Cut". The hair is about half an inch over the crown and gently fades to almost zero over the neck. This style is almost always accompanied by liberal use of gel! The hair is brushed forward, slightly upward, not vertical but diagonal! I can see the scalp. I like this spiked hairstyle!!!

The Midways:
Then of course the classic Caesar’s cut is always in style. Short, but not extremely tiny; in the sense that it’s long enough to be parted or brushed back. This style maintained by two of my favorite actors George Clooney and Brad Pitt …

Hair do’s and don’ts ...
So guys choose whichever hairstyle you want. Keep it long, short or go bald. Hair is something that would grow back rather quick. So experiment with styles – try butch-cut, mushroom-cut, layered-cut, afro-style or even rat’s tail.
But please keep your eyes just a hair’s breathe away!
Hair over the eyes is just NOT COOL!!!

A detour:
*** Talking about George and Brad; they are doing some very commendable work in Africa. Reminds me of an article I had written long back on Celebrity Activism ... As John Lennon maintained that if the camera will follow him wherever he goes, then why not use it to his advantage and take the media to places where it should be going anyways! So some days back George Clooney was in Darfur, Sudan ... and after returning he is actively campaigning to spread awareness about the genocide taking place there. AND yes its working! Suddenly the media is giving much more airtime to this issue … Keep it up Georgie boy!!!

The Marquette Building - a remarkable landmark!

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When every element of any building is intricately meshed with history of its area, it becomes a masterpiece. One such remarkable building is The Marquette Building, in the Loop [140 S Dearborn St]. Completed in 1895, this 110-year-old building was designated a Chicago landmark in 1975 and a National Historical Landmark in 1976.

What I find most interesting about this structure apart from its beauty, elegance and strength – more than enough to make it exceptional – are the many Chicago–specific elements of the building that make it an important historical and cultural landmark.


Read more: City Spaces, city places ...

The Marquette Building - a Chicago masterpiece ...

Friday, May 05, 2006

When a picture says a thousand words

Well needless to say that I usually attach photographs with my write-ups and very often I debate with myself in selecting the best suited photo that adds some visual appeal to my inane views.

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However quite often pictures speak for themselves …
… rendering words totally superfluous. Now everyone knows about my obsession with my camera; so it can be logically deduced that I have amassed a huge pile of photographs that I’ve carefully stored on my computer. I’m not denying this fact. But having said that; I’ll also admit that very often I feel that it’s not right of me to claim that I love photography. The reason being that unlike an avid photo-artist who would naturally take immense pleasure in mulling over the best shutter speed and aperture combination that gives the optimum exposure – I never ever do so! In fact I’ve not even read my Canon manual or for that matter have stayed away from any article on good photography. When I am out with my camera hunting to take a bird shot; I just go by my *animal* instinct … hmmm… okay let me be more decent and say that I use my woman’s instinct! I just click whatever feels right to me at the spur of the moment! Though I'm quite aware that it’s NOT the best way to do things! Well on an optimistic note - I can claim to have a tremendous potential for improvement – * if only * and *only if* - I become a tad bit more tech-savvy!!!

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To add to my technically challenged aptitude; I sometimes love the totally out of focus photos. No kidding!!! Like when I’ve positioned myself to click a bird, which by strange coincidence decides to synchronize its actions with mine and takes-off at the exact same moment – I get images that are totally blurred – blurrrrrrrred - as in pix 2. Sometimes I literally can’t make head from tail. But rather than deleting such photos I find them very amusing and interesting!!! Sometimes the birds even pose for me – as in pix.3 !!!

Another aspect of my *NON* pro photographer behavior is manifested after I’ve taken shots and have downloaded the photographs on my computer. I never read the image- information. Rather I try to collect information on the subject-matter! Like if it’s a bird snap then I google for which bird? If it’s a building photo – then who is the architect, which year it was constructed, what are the structural highlights … and so on … and so forth ….

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So well … those were my unsolicited explanations for NOT being an ace photographer; though I love taking snaps and have collected a huge pile of them. Now apart from taking photographs another thing that I love to do is to *scribble* tidbits. It’s like a compulsion with me. I’m not delving into whether it’s good or bad – but just making a point that I do experience an urge to note down small little things I observe … I guess I can draw a parallel with a smoke addict would light up a cigarette without much thinking about it!

Now my photographs and the corresponding scribbles are usually at two different places on the computer; which doesn’t make much sense. As I use my Blog ; more like a journal so [yesterday] I had this *bright* idea to put the photos with their information. I sat till late night and put them in two separate Blogs. Though I will add more photos; but I have NO intensions of updating them on a regular basis. It’s more like a photo album; where I arrange the photos and forget about them …. But I know that they are there, so when I want to have a look, that's possible.
If it interests anyone ... then check out these links:
Chicago – As I see it ...
Chicago - Churches ...

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NOTE: Though I’ve put many new photos like ... Marquette, Medinah, Merchandise Mart, Wrigley bldg, Marshall Fields, Union Station, Donnelley Bldg … But some photos are a repeat from “My Photo Journal”. There are already about 30 entries in Chicago – As I see it ... and 16 entries in Chicago - Churches ... Blog! Well as is said “ a picture says a thousand words” so I don’t need to say much. Though I still would like to add the architects and year of completion; but I’m damn tired right now. As a dear friend tells me to finish job in one long stretch – I’ve tried doing so … and in one day I’ve put them together. But to have a feeling of a job done is good!

On a totally different note:
MI-III [Mission Impossible – III] has been released and sounds quite promising.
Though last year I saw a couple of excellent movies [like Munich, Crash…] but there weren’t any big blockbuster that I was really waiting for … But this year is so different … There are quite some much-awaited movies line-up …….
• MI- III
• Da Vinci Code
• United – 93
• V for Vendetta
So weekend should be all tied up …..

While I’m yapping … here’s more …
I could make it to another Chicago neighborhood: “Ukrainian Village” … it’s in West Chicago!!! It was like being *out* of America as people there were not even talking in English – they talk in some East European language and love bicycles! Maybe I’ll write on it later ...

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Old Town

Chicago neighborhood: Old Town ...

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Last week my friend and I took a tour of the Old Town … settled mostly by early German immigrants … It’s best to cover this area on foot … Luckily my friend was as comfortable walking, as I am. The most striking feature is the *red* brick- houses; as if the whole town has literally been *painted red* quite evident in the photos I’ve put. The buildings are mostly in the Victorian style and streets are lined with trees. In the backdrop one just cannot miss to notice the modern skyscrapers of the Near North area as these stand in sharp contrast to the architectural style of Old Town! [Note the last pix.]

Places of interest ...
- St. Michael’s Church [pix 2]
- F. J Dewes mansion [pix 3]
- Yondorf Block and Hall [pix 4]
- Second City [pix 5]
- Ale House [pix 6]
- Steppenwolf Theater
- Chicago Historical Society
- Summer Art Fair
- It is bordered by the Lincoln Park – which has free zoo and conservatory!

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Old Town, Lake View and Lincoln Square were the hub of early German immigrants.
"German immigrants poured into Chicago in the first half of the 19th century. By 1900, a quarter of Chicago residents were either born in Germany or had a parent who was from there ... "
- The Encyclopedia of Chicago.

St Michael’s Church: [pix 2]
The early German immigrants settled around St. Michaels Church. It was destroyed in the 1871 fire. The task of rebuilding started within a week and it was one of the first Chicago churches to rise from the ashes of the Great Fire.

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In fact after the Great Fire; the construction boom began in Chicago attracting a wave of German and Irish immigrants. But today I’m concentrating only on German immigrants. German immigrants are famous for their ...
# Architectural skills:
Chicago landscape has been greatly influenced by influence of German-born architects notably Dankmar Adler, Mies van der Rohe, Helmut Jahn and Dirk Lohan. They have contributed heavily to different architectural styles such as the Chicago School, Art Deco, International, and Postmodern styles. Infact the founder of “Chicago School of Architecture” Mies van der Rohe was a German immigrant who made Chicago his home. However most buildings in this “Old Town” have been built in the Victorian style.

# Beer-making trade:
Germany is famous for its beer and German immigrants opened more than two dozen breweries in the Old Town area alone.

F. J. Dewes Mansion [pix 3]
It was built in 1896 by wealthy brewer Francis J. Dewes. it is modeled after the Chateau of Versailles in France. This 12-room mansion is accented with renaissance, rococo and baroque designs, and a fireplace in every room. [503 West Wrightwood Avenue]

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Yondorf Block and Hall: [pix 4]
It is an important example of a "Public Hall" building, a building type common in the 19th-century Chicago that typically contained meeting rooms used by civic and fraternal organizations. Its plaque reads:
It is a distinctive example of Victorian architecture with fine craftsmanship and detailing, especially in limestone, cast iron, red molded brick and terra cotta.
Now it is designated as a Chicago landmark.
Year Built: 1887 Architect: Frederick Ahlschlager …

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Second City: [pix 5]
The Second City is a long-running improvisational comedy troupe based in the Old Town area of Chicago. It has offshoot troupes in other cities, most notably Toronto and some other cities, like Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New York and Denver. Noted alumni of Second City troupe include Jim Belushi, Bill Murray and Harold Ramis.

Chicago Historical Society: It is temporarily closed for renovation.
It houses stories on some of Chicago's most memorable events ... like … Fort Dearborn, Chicago Fire, The World's Columbian Exposition, The Pullman Era, The Stockyards, Al Capone ...

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# Pix 6: Old Town Ale House; opened in 1958 ...

Chicago Neighborhoods:
It's well know that Chicago had more Poles than any city except Warsaw …
However little known is the fact that Chicago has larger communities of Czechs, Lithuanians, Swedes, Danes, and Luxembourgers than any city in the country. Most of immigrants have early setteled in communities that are know famous as Chicago neighborhood.

Old Town – German immigrants
Pilsen – nation’s largest Bohemian-American settlement. Now home of Mexican immigrants
Greek Town
Little Italy
China Town – one of the most vibrant communities with colorful pagodas ..
Bronzeville – center of African American community
Ukrainian Village
Logan Square - & - Milwaukee Avenue – includes some of the oldest Polish immigrant settlements
Andersonville – famous for Swedish immigrants and has many Scandinavian restaurants
Argyle Street - Vietnamese and Cambodian establishments as well as Thai and Filipino shops and restaurants
Devon Avenue – formerly a Jewish community …… now it’s popular place for Indian, Pakistani & Middle eastern communities …
River North – famous for art galleries and ranks second only to Manhattan’s Soho area.

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Note how the *red-brick* Victorian-style "Old Town" homes contrast with the modern skyscrapers of the Near North area!!!

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