Massive Central Furniture Mart Sign Dangerously Low

Central Furniture Mart
Central Furniture Mart in better times

Alisa Hauser reports:

WICKER PARK — The neon Central Furniture Mart hung dangerously low to the sidewalk late Tuesday afternoon. No one was injured and the street surrounding the sign was closed to pedestrians and car traffic as contractors eventually hauled the sign away. Larry Merritt, a Chicago Fire Department spokesman, said that fire workers responded to a call of a “dangerous sign” at 11:52 a.m. Tuesday. There were no injuries, Merritt said.

Candise Cho, owner of neighboring Mildblend Supply Co., said that she has “always been concerned about the safety of pedestrians.”

“I know I find myself taking a deep breath each time I walk under it. I had hoped with new owners, it would have been taken down or better secured,” Cho said.

Cho said she did not call 911, but when she looked outside her store shortly before 12 p.m. when officials were on the scene, the sign was “much lower” than it had been in the past.

“It was very low. It had dropped,” Cho said.

(click here to continue reading Massive Central Furniture Mart Sign Hung Dangerously Low, Witnesses Say.)

Passing Goldstar (Explored)

A recent photograph made it into Flickr’s Explore (double click to embiggen).

Passing Goldstar

About the photograph: I was standing near Gold Star on Division St., admiring how afternoon light illuminated this long time resident of Wicker Park, waiting for the first person to enter my shot. However, when I entered my digital darkroom, I noticed the women was partially blurred. Often converting to black and white hides these flaws, I used a Tri-X 400 emulation filter (from Alien Skin), but then was sad about losing the golden hour light. I stopped working on the photo, however in the morning when I woke up, I had a new idea. I could use Photoshop to merge some of the color back in to the photo.

I processed the image again from the original Camera RAW file, using the same settings, except, obviously leaving the afternoon sunlight. With both images open, I used the Clone Stamp tool in Photoshop, and with my mouse, dragged over areas that looked like they needed color.

I started with just the neon Goldstar sign, then added the more of the building, then the doorway, then as a last touch, the woman’s feet and the shadow on the sidewalk. I’m not 100% certain if I like that, but I think so. I also could have re-colorized her purse, but it had reds and blues in addition to the golden palette of the rest of the image, so I left it black and white.

I goofed, slightly, when initially using the Clone Stamp tool by not exactly lining up the origin, but this gives the color aspects a subtle three dimensional look, so I left it as it ended up.

All in all, I’m happy with how this image turned out.

Double Door In Danger Of Closing

Tour Bus Double Door
Tour Bus Double Door

Wicker Park would seem weirdly empty without the Double Door, I hope they win their lawsuit…

Joe Shanahan, co-owner of Double Door, one of the anchor clubs during the rise of the Wicker Park music scene in the ’90s, is facing eviction. But in his first public statement on the monthslong legal battle, he vows he won’t go quietly.

“We’re not going down without a fight,” he said in an interview. “We’ve done the Rolling Stones, the Smashing Pumpkins, the Flaming Lips, Greg Dulli and so many important artists there. It supports the community. We want to stay.”

Shanahan, who also owns the Metro in Wrigleyville, has been one of the pillars of the Chicago music community for decades. He opened Double Door with partner Sean Mulroney in 1994, just as Wicker Park was gaining international recognition as a hub for the city’s emerging bands and artists, including the Pumpkins, Liz Phair, Material Issue, Eleventh Dream Day and countless others.

The fight, which continued this week in Cook County Circuit Court, touches on whether Double Door gave the landlord proper notice that it wished to extend the lease. Schiff introduced documents that included a lease extension request letter from Double Door’s Mulroney dated April 24, more than 180 days before the lease expired, as required by the contract. Strauss’ attorney, Bonita Stone, said the landlord never received the letter and that she wanted to question Mulroney.

The Double Door attorney also contended in court papers that Strauss was operating as a partner of the club and was receiving monthly dividend checks for most of 2015. The landlord “breached his fiduciary duties” to the club, according to the Double Door complaint.


(click here to continue reading Double Door won’t go down without a fight – Chicago Tribune.)

Double Door Liquors
Double Door Liquors

Horse Mackerel Latitudes at Mirai Sushi

not the best photo, but damn, was this delicious. Not sure exactly what fish this was, other than being a seasonal special offering that the server called “Horse Mackerel”

Last one Mirai had, or I would have ordered a second. (maybe)

Mirai Sushi is probably my most favorite sushi restaurant in Chicago, such deliciousness unmatched by typical Japanese-esque places.

I’ve had one meal at Mirai where the service was a bit spotty, but in all my visits over the years, I have never had food that was not spectacular.

Plans for the old Pontiac spot

Cool, sounds like somewhere I’d go, if it wasn’t too crowded. The old Pontiac Cafe was located in a sweet spot, just north of the park that gives Wicker Park its name. Their food wasn’t anything special, but sitting outside on a bright, sunny day was a pleasure. Glad to hear the new owners are only tweaking the restaurant.

Seven or Eight

The rumors were swirling for months about Wicker Park’s old Pontiac Cafe space (1531 N. Damen Ave.)—and the plans that Alexander, Paul Kahan and the rest of their cronies from The Publican, and Peter Garfield (Alexander’s Violet Hour partner) had for it—before last week’s revelation that it would be a still-unnamed taquería. (ETA: late October.) We finally got some details.

D: What was with all the rumors?
TA: My partner Peter and I were presented with the possibility of taking over the Pontiac a year and a half ago, but that was when we were working on The Publican. The farthest thing from my mind was to do another operation. Everyone thought we were being secretive, but there was no secret.

D: What ideas did you discuss for the space?
TA: The last thing we wanted to see was another sports bar come in to the neighborhood. Paul started talking about barbecue, and other ideas with a Mexican twist. Our first ideas centered around the music. We wanted old country from the fifties to the seventies, alt country, and the Bakersfield sound that originated in California in the fifties and sixties. We’re going have a turntable behind the bar, and the bartenders will play these albums.

D: So is it a restaurant or a bar?
TA: It’s a bar next to a little tiny taquería. Seven or eight items. We don’t want the neighborhood to think a restaurant is going in here. Think of Dairy Queen. The way those windows slide open. That’s the way the kitchen will be. So if you want a taco, you walk up to the kitchen window and order it.

D: And the booze?
TA: There will be about 50 obscure whiskeys. About 40 tequilas that a lot of people don’t know about. We’re not going to do the in-depth cocktails that we do at the Violet Hour, but they are going to be amazing. The beers are predominantly from Texas and California, Mexico, and some from Chicago, of course. And we will be one of the least expensive bars—trying to do a $1 draught and a $3 glass of whiskey.

[Click to continue reading This Old Pontiac Is No Clunker – Dish – September 2009 – Chicago]

Shiner Bock

Actually sounds like an Austin, Texas bar, circa 1979, before Austin boomed into tech central, and the Armadillo World Headquarters turned into an office park. I like that Bakersfield sound, actually, and the Outlaw Country era of Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, Johnny Cash and pals, plus any bar that plays Uncle Tupelo on a regular basis will be ok with me.

Hope it succeeds well enough to stay in business, but not so well that I can’t find a table when I want one.