Monday, October 17, 2011

Food Trucks

Wanted to blog before taking off for 10 days where I’ll be OFF THE GRID. I’m taking a VACATION! Really it’s quaint. We have a trailer in the woods, a bit rustic, where we can do a bit of cooking, sleeping, and READING. But no phone, Internet, etc. Sounds like magic, huh.

But before I leave, a few thoughts to my readers. Both of you.

My husband and I were walking around an adjoining neighborhood last week and I noticed a food truck! Yay! So many up and coming cities have been getting roaming food trucks. Such as Seattle where the son of some friends of ours owns Skillet. Seattle has a way advanced street food culture. The parents were telling us about how hard it was in the beginning. You know, how they welded a truck from bits and pieces. You can only launch a project like this with the concentrated help of friends and family.

But their son came up with a hit. Not only with his food truck, Skillet, but with his premier BACON JAM. Yup, Josh Henderson was the one who came up with the idea of a bacon spread. Of course, someone would eventually get the idea—because, of course, bacon goes with everything. Why else would vegans want fake bacon?

Not that anyone is getting rich off Bacon Jam, but it did put his star on the map. I’ve been tracking Josh’s progress through reports from the parents. And, couldn’t wait for a version of Skillet to come to Chicago UNTIL this:

Sweet times for Chicago food trucks

by Marissa Oberlander
Feb 16, 201

Started as cheap wheels for chefs without startup capital, food trucks are now affordable expansion vehicles for brick-and-mortar restaurants and bakeries. And if the new Chicago mayor passes an ordinance allowing on-site cooking, this national trend could see exponential growth in the Windy City.
Under current law, Chicago food truck operators can only sell pre-packaged food. The proposed ordinance, championed by Ald. Scott Waguespack (32nd), would allow operators to cook inside their trucks with health standards enforced by random city inspections. It also calls for licensed trucks to follow specific routes that keep a fair distance from restaurants and retail food stores.
If Rahm Emanuel, the frontrunner in next week’s mayoral election, wins a mouth-watering future is all but guaranteed for Chicago food trucks.
“I do not believe cook-on-site food trucks should be illegal,” Emanuel said in an interview with Time Out Chicago. “I believe we should be doing more to promote access to fresh foods throughout the city and encourage innovation in our food industry.”

SOOOOO when I saw a food truck on the streets of Andersonville near my neighborhood in Uptown, I thought WOW! There were lines of people, nice upscale-looking customers with lattes in one hand and a dog leash in the other. THEN I noticed just how many dogs were around this food truck. (Dogs love bacon too!) The truck was called Bark! Or Barf! Or something similar, which didn’t exactly sound appetizing.

It was a food truck for dogs.

I had two opposing thoughts at the same time. Where’s the bacon? and There’s something perverse about a food truck for animals. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but it’s the same feeling I get when I’m downtown and see all the little girls walking around with American Girl Dolls. Have you been to the American Girl Doll shop? It’s where you can buy luxury items or dolls clothes for more than you’d actually pay for stuff for YOURSELF. The first time I went into one of those places I felt dirty—especially when I came out with a shopping bag full of stuff FOR A DOLL. And then a homeless guy asked me for what amounted to spare change to buy a coffee and I felt stingy.

I immediately went home and vowed to never buy an American Girl Doll item. (Sorry if I’m offending some people’s American Doll sensibilities). So the people lined up to buy treats for their dogs cast the same vibe, for me.

Me and my husband walked home to our neighborhood—the step-sister of Andersonville, where the yuppies go to buy vanilla lattes—for their pets—to Uptown where I saw this:

That’s a picture of homeless or people with low-incomes lining up for food and health services from the Night Ministry van. About 70 people were waiting in line.

Here’s the Night Ministry website if you care to check them out:

Maybe send them some Bacon Jam.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


At AROHO Marilyn Robinson spoke about this. Of course I’m aware of today’s paranoia over borders, terrorists that have turned many people inside out to the point of demonizing the “other”, this was just the first time I’d seen it used as a verb, as in “othering” others. Basically the other is someone other than you.

I know pretty broad. Yet it is only in the broadest language that one can describe something as all-encompassing as the universe outside of our self. Some people have attempted to mitigate this generalization by saying something like this: I’m not racist, I’m just not comfortable with a black president or what’s wrong with profiling—we need better border security.

Well this is all fine except it is “othering”. A great example of this is in a book I referenced earlier this month: Wendy McClure’s The Wilder Years, where Wendy and her beau traveled to downstate Illinois to attend a weekend festival revolving around farm skills ie putting up tomatoes, canning peaches, making beef jerky, learning how to cut logs, or make a composting latrine. One of the main organizers was a woman who spun her own wool, who knitted and wove. Cool! I know I love the DIY movement, people who use recycled materials and are learning to live off the grid etc.

Except this wasn’t so much about getting back to nature as about survivalist skills—because the end is coming, nigh unto us. The insinuation was that some of those attending just didn’t know what was going to happen, ahem, cough, now that that man is in office.

Scary, but Wendy makes the scene read humorous, yet the subtext is ominous. It reminds me that there are crazies out there intent on “othering”.

Today I was sitting and thinking outside of the box. I love that phrase because it would indicate there is a box, borders to understanding. Most mysteries though are unknowable. On the list of World Heritage Mysteries (see link) is Stonehenge, where for a while there Western man thought they had the secrets of Stonehenge figured out. It was in the box. Then . . .

In If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking the Secrets of Stonehenge by Marc Aronson (published by the National Geographic Society) Aronson tells the story of archeologist Mike Parker Pearson of the University of Sheffield who first had to travel AWAY from England, half way around the world to Madagascar to begin to unravel the secrets of Stonehenge. It was there in Madagascar that Parker-Pearson met a retired archaeologist, a native of Madagascar, and asked him to come have a look at Stonehenge.

Wow, this is outside the box. Asking someone from outside the culture, outside one’s hemisphere, and from a totally different tradition to get their opinion on something that baffled mathematicians, historians, anthropologists, archeologists, and academics from esteemed universities. What could an African man have to contribute? Another perspective.

It was his conclusion that Stonehenge was built to honor ancestors and the dead. And so Dr. Parker-Pearson began to look at Stonehenge, study aerial photos from this new perspective, and, working this new hypothesis, began to collect evidence that supported this idea, as well as the notion there was a sister complex made of wood for the living in the near vicinity. This idea was radically different from the previously accepted theory of Stonehenge being used as a temple. Dr. Parker-Pearson pursued deeper research that ultimately changed how the world viewed Stonehenge, the legacy of an ancient people, and pretty much discredited a long-accepted theory based upon astronomy.

So sometime, ask a 90-year-old person what they think about . . . . I don’t know, what makes you happy, what do you look forward to, teach me from your wealth of knowledge, tell me the secret of life.

Or sit down and chat with a homeless person about  . . . (see above)

Or listen to a 4-year-old.

Or visit another country.

Open yourself up to others by “othering” and you might come away with your box blown up.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Chicago Marathon--Then & Now

Employing a technique I picked up from reading Joe Brainard's I Remember, I'd like to wax nostalgic about the Chicago Marathon. 

I remember when 6,000 people ran the marathon, yesterday it was 45,000.

I remember when my husband who was then my boyfriend could meet me at the finishing line. Yesterday we couldn't find the finish line for all the people.

I remember when it maybe $45 to sign up for the marathon. Someone yesterday told me they paid $160.

You used to be able to run the Chicago Marathon bandit--meaning just jump in at the last minute. Yesterday they were ONLY letting people with numbers into the park. So that even your family, loved ones, etc
couldn't even GET INTO the park to see their runner start. It was absolutely draconian.

I remember when the marathon wasn't sponsored by Bank of America--and it was A LOT BETTER.

We used to be able to glean clothes the runners flung at the last minute when the race started. We'd walk up and down Columbus Drive picking over the multitude of shirts, sweats, etc after the runners had cleared out. Yesterday they kept all the gleaners out and volunteers bagged the gear up. They were told it was going to be donated to homeless shelters. Listen , I work at a homeless shelter, ever since I can remember we've NEVER gotten a donation from Streets & San regarding running gear. Yesterday as me and my friend started taking the bagged clothes out of the jaws of on-coming trash compactor trucks, even the volunteers were appalled. WHAT A WASTE! they exclaimed. They then started helping us go through the bags; they too started looking for stuff they wanted--since it was really going into landfills.

I remember when the Chicago Marathon was about running. When you allow 45,000 people to sign up all you have are clogged streets where only the elite have a chance to run their race their way.

The Chicago Marathon has become a victim of corporate greed and sponsorship. Occupy Wall Street, sign up for the Milwaukee Marathon next year.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Wondering

What is going to happen to people's memories--when instead of committing an event to memory or contriving to later describe it in a journal--we simply go, hey! and take a picture with our cell phones.

In the future will everything of significance be recorded only on cell phone?

Just wondering.