Thursday, June 5, 2008

Baum & Brinshore, the Olympics, Transit, J.Z. Smith, and More

posted by chicago pop

A few links that have popped up in my in-box, and are worth pointing out, in the dim hope that HPP's well-read audience has not already checked them out. Common theme: a bum economy is hampering everything from the surge to public transportation, the expansion of retail chains to development projects nationwide (think 53rd Street), and the Olympics may be a way to solve everybody's problems without having to fix them now.

Crain's, a story parallels that in yeserday's Herald about the break-up between the U of C and developers Baum and Brinshore. Astoundingly, Crain's gives the Hyde Park Herald credit for breaking this story. Maybe this bodes well for the future of local journalism -- or maybe the University is just doing favors with its press releases. Highlights: retailers nationwide are cutting back on plans for expansion, and B&B couldn't bring home the leases. As recently as fall 2007, the Harper Court & 53rd project had, according to the Herald, an "expanded-service restaurant and a national fashion retailer" lined up for the space. The latter pulled out, and it's back to Square One. So much for The Gap.

Sam Feldman of the
Chicago Weekly has an interesting blurb on a recent panel discussion on the pros and cons of Chicago hosting to the 2016 Olympic Games. U of C economist Allen Sanderson made the argument, which had previously appeared in the Tribune's Op-Ed, that private sector investments in an Olympic bid would come with opportunity costs locally, and might better be spent on needed improvements now. Pro-Olympics folks argued that sometimes you gotta dream (even if history seems to show the economic benefits of Olympics are not clear-cut). And besides, how else are we going to stop the El from imploding?

On a related note, given how economic downturn + dreams of an Olympic bailout for crumbling transit infrastructure could all add up to a massive
@#$% for Hyde Park and the City of Chicago, it seems worthwhile to point out this article from the Christian Science Monitor, relaying data showing that, despite the surge to public transportation across the country, rising fuel prices for diesel (bus fuel) are forcing some agencies to consider reducing service. Just when people are showing some elasticity of travel preferences! Another argument for the Gray Line folks, I suppose...

Finally, I can't help but mention the off-line, hard-copy but nonetheless fascinating portrait of local academic celebrity J.Z. Smith, who I don't begrudge for having given me one of the lowest grades I received in College, and who also happens to be the guy who lives right next to St. Stephens. Yup, he's one of the folks who threw that contractual lasso around the developer who has made a few attempts to build on the property. See the famous
post by our own Dr. Peter Rossi for details.

He also doesn't have a cell phone and has never used a computer. (Grey City, Volume 1, Issue 1 Spring 2008)

And finally, a kind reader encouraged us to reprint this, one of the Tribune's list of alternative locations for the
Chicago Children's Museum -- right here beside the Museum of Science and Industry, in the Doctor's Hospital!

I've set the bomb and lit the fuse, now I'm running for cover.


Anonymous said...

Whaaa?? No mention of Maryal Stone Dale's letter to the editor this week?

Seems she wants to present a play she and her classmates performed as 8th graders (during World War 2) as legal documents to establish that Scammon Gardens must always be a place for children to play (well, that and a will, but I thought the play thing was a lot funnier).

You can't make this stuff up.

David Farley said...

That J.Z. Smith interview is online - link here:

edj said...

I am glad to see that Maryal Stone Dale wants to make sure that there is not enough room to admit students who are not children of faculty. I guess her visio of diversity is making sure that the Economics Department is represented. What about diversity? I will only attend the pla if she recreates her role as a member of the Greek Chorus hectoring peole in the neighborhood.

Don't getme started on that one.

Intereting point on opportunity costs for the Olympics. I think one of the points the Olympic Committee was making was that some of those improvements should be made right now to show that the city is getting reay for the Olympics. Probably don't want to mention that the World's Columbia Exposition of 1893 celebrated the 401st anniversary of Columbus discovering America as it was originally supposed to happen in 1892.

Use of a big even like this is a time honored tradition to bring infrastructure improvements and attention to cities. Worked for Barcelona and Sydney, not so much for Atlanta. Hey, it worked for Chicago in 1893. 20 million people came to Chicago and raised our proile to a cultural ccenter of the country. And, it helped bring the university here.

Plus, it would jump start this neighborhood in a big way that the NIMBYS would not be able to stop.

Alec Brandon said...

By the way, the Grey City Journal is the brain child of the Editor's Blog's own Tim Murphy.

Although I'm going to take credit for the fantastic art work by Tom Tian. I "found" Tom and by "found" I mean he came to me and said he wanted to do cartoons and I said he could.

Yeah...I deserve all the credit.

Alec Brandon said...

Also, let's not go crazy about complimenting HP Herald's journalism.

I'm not even referring to their frequent "unsigned" news stories or their coverage of their own owner during the Co-Op debacle, remember this is the paper that didn't have a story about Amadou Cisse's shooting (which happened on a Monday night, if I remember correctly) in their Wednesday issue.

susan said...

The Grey City Journal was the arts section/supplement of the Maroon from at least 1968 to 1994.

David Farley said...

The link to the J.Z. Smith Maroon article I posted seems to be truncated. It may also not actually be the item C. Pop was referencing, although it is a recent interview with J.Z. Smith.

SR said...

The Smith article is here.

Elizabeth Fama said...

I find it fascinating that Mr. Smith can reject technologies that he admits he has never tried. It's a knee-jerk backlash against "change" that's...hmm...oddly familiar. And why stop at handwriting those scholarly papers? Don't they make quills and ink wells anymore?

Otto said...

And why stop at handwriting those scholarly papers? Don't they make quills and ink wells anymore?

If one is content with what one has, I'm not sure where some sort of moral obligation to try new "technologies" is supposed to lie.

I won't talk to answering machines, and I've never given the In-Sink-Erator company the time of day. Are these an affront to the March of Progress?

Anonymous said...

I won't talk to answering machines, and I've never given the In-Sink-Erator company the time of day. Are these an affront to the March of Progress?

Choice of consumer goods is up to the consumer. But answering machines and garbage disposals are hardly on the level of computers.

A refusal to keep abreast of new technologies is not an affront to the "March of Progress", but it does tend to relegate the deliberately obtuse to the "Pits of Obsolescence".

edj said...

Many people who go on the Internet and who use telephones fells that it is just another way to connect to other people. Having a telephone and sitting there letting it ring without ever answering sends the message that you don't think anyone else has anything of value to say. At least being aware of new technologies gives people a different perspective on the world that can be applied elsewhere.

I remember vowing never to buy a computer, an answering machine, a cell phone and a whole host of other technologies, but I eventually gave in. It's another way of connecting to other people. It's a part of the world around us. Not that everyone has to have every gadget or even like them. Far from it. However, it seems that to have a better understanding of people, we should all at least have a basic understanding of new technologies and at least check them out regardless of whether we end up liking them (the technology, not the people).

Although some of our uber-NIMBYs probably do like to work with the "rent-a-monks" to take their dictation and do their transcriptions. The rent-a-monks have taken at least two vows that they like - obedience and silence.

Elizabeth Fama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Elizabeth Fama said...

Of course we should control our gadgets, not the other way around, and Mr. Smith is probably feeling reactionary about all the people in our country who can't seem to do the former. But not trying a gadget at all (like a computer) that could possibly improve his scholarly research and writing is really strange to me -- Otto will never persuade me otherwise.

I agree with schweingesicht that disposers and answering machines aren't in the same category as the computer, especially for an academic. Tennis professionals no longer play with wood rackets, although they were sentimental favorites...for about three minutes after the technology changed.

chicago pop said...

I also happen to have a notion that academics should be somewhat more than just specialists, lost with a box full of Babylonian clay cylinders, and be able to speak in some small way to some aspect of the present human condition.

One example of how technology has become more than gadgetry: Obama's campaign, which mucho gente are saying is revolutionary just as much because of its technological underpinnings (on-line fundraising, voter drives, and organizing) as it is for the blurring of racial categories.

If you're not online, or don't have a sense of what is happening online, then there's a good chance you may not understand how and why the next President of the United will be elected.

But, certainly, there comes a point when each of us may decide that, even for events like that, we no longer really care.

Otto said...

I'm in something of a pickle in terms of detailed replies without being tiresome. "Schweingesicht" proposes that "answering machines and garbage disposals are hardly on the level of computers."

Well, OK. What are these "levels"? Some sort of diagram would be handy. Where does the flush toilet (bĂȘte noire of the postmodern assault on science) slot into the new cosmographic lineup?

Anonymous said...

Well, OK. What are these "levels"? Some sort of diagram would be handy. Where does the flush toilet (bĂȘte noire of the postmodern assault on science) slot into the new cosmographic lineup?

Otto, I'm sure that at some point in time, someone thought it was better to dig basements by hand rather than use a steamshovel or other construction equipment. That said, let's all agree to dig our holes in our own way, shall we? :-)