Tall tales from the flatlands

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By Dan Haley

Editor and Publisher

Odds and ends with some a bit odder than others:

Just back from vacation and would suggest that the most disheartening aspect of re-entering Chicago from either east or west is the gradual leave-taking from any roll or pitch to the Earth. By golly, this place is dull and flat. No wonder Chicago invented the skyscraper. Anything to break the monotony that stretches from Youngstown to K.C.

Oak Park is still trying to figure out a way to build its own mini-skyscraper at Lake and Forest. Don't much mind that the hotel is gone but I'm disappointed that the original building design is gone. From the first glance I thought the glass-and-steel version was elegant, sweeping and bold. This was a gateway building into our downtown.

The new incarnation feels much more like it was poached from a pile of drawings for anyplace in the West Loop. You know you've gone pedestrian when you see the stacked balconies.

Do you ever see anyone sitting on one of those pinched balconies on any of those non-descript buildings? Seems like an expensive space to park a bike that never gets ridden.

Speaking of downtown, there is the imminent vast vacancy at Borders. Trustee Ray Johnson addressed me as Mr. Haley in a stinging Web comment when I suggested that Borders' space was problematic with its two levels and its parking problems. I could always tell my mom was mad at me when she called me Mr. Blister, so I think Mr. Johnson was similarly fried. There's always plenty of parking in the Holley Court garage, he wrote. I'm sure he's right. It's just that I haven't willingly parked in that garage in years.

When I'm at Harlem and Lake and look at Borders, with traffic doing 40 on Harlem and Lake Street tied up, I think, "no parking."

That's why shoppers are going to go through major withdrawal when the world's most expensive surface parking lot — the village-owned former Colt building site — is redeveloped. Luckily with the economy showing teeny, subtle signs of possibly cratering again, that is going to be some long time.

Isn't it annoying that the drive-thru at Tasty Dog was poorly designed so that you can't make the turn? That's it. That's the entire Tasty Dog item.

The successful Friends of the Library Book Fair over the weekend always reminds me that 37 years ago I was a young used bookseller — The Booksmith on Marion Street — and I made a stupendous deal. I would take everything left over at the end of the sale. I expected 25 boxes of pretty good books. I discovered 400 boxes of college textbooks and Readers Digest Condensed Books. Why would anyone condense a book?

Last week, we reported that Lady Gaga, Justin Bieber and Katy Perry had all generously donated money to the Berry children, the three kids injured in a Texas car crash that killed their folks. They are now living in Oak Park and getting treatment at the wonderful Shriners Hospital just north of the village.

This week we're reporting on the Hephzibah kids — 26 children who have been through the wringer of all the abuse and neglect a family could dish out. They set up a lemonade stand on Friday as a fundraiser for the Berry kids.

Now that's a story: Kids who have absorbed the very worst treatment raising money for kids who have suffered grievous loss and injury.

The Hephzibah kids raised nearly $600 last Friday and they'll be at it again this Friday outside Hephzibah at 1026 North Blvd.

Contact:
Email: dhaley@wjinc.com Twitter: @OPEditor

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