Saturday, April 07, 2007

The More Things Change...

When I found myself face-to-face with the "Check, Please" effect at Yassa last weekend, one of the things that stuck in my mind that I didn't write about was a question one of my impromptu dining companions asked.

"This really isn't a developing neighborhood, is it?"

I asked why she thought that, and she said that she couldn't find any new construction on the way down. Her partner and I both allowed that it may not seem that way, but if she was to look north of 79th on the way to the Dan Ryan, she'd see bungalows, three-flats and classic courtyard-style apartment buildings in good condition. As I was walking back to the Red Line with my leftovers, that question sort of stuck in my head as an example of how north and south siders look at the changing fabric of the city. I saw in Chatham countless businesses owned by people who work and live in the neighborhood. She didn't see town homes. It's truly Pavlovian.

Shopping for fruit and vegetables at Egg Store, I noticed that they've started stocking small amounts of organic produce. I saw organic oranges, romaine lettuce hearts, and hydroponically grown tomatoes. It's a small caveat to the slowly changing face of the neighborhood, but I don't expect to see Egg Store going completely organic and free range overnight. Besides, those oranges were tiny, even at 69 cents a pound.

... The More They Stay the Same: The Bridgeport barista wars B News declared haven't exactly come to fruition. For starters, Hi Tea is in the South Loop. It's two different fronts between there and 31st and Morgan, Bridgeport Coffee House's main competition would be Scoops, the ice cream shop at 31st and Wallace. And that place uses an automated espresso machine. So until Hi Tea opens a location steps from my apartment, Mike Pilkington will go uncontested.

But we were talking for a little bit Thursday night about the stoner pet store that opened up next to the Ramova Grill. It's fucking scary. There was this pet store on 35th, between Halsted and Lituanica, that closed down last year. I'd go there occasionally and load up on rawhides for Emmy. Apparently the owners of this new pet store bought out a sizable portion of the old one's inventory. Specifically, they cleaned up on exotic fish, birds, turtles, and reptiles, probably while baked out of their gourds. It's like they decided to buy every colorful, dangerous animal the old pet store had in stock. They probably thought the giant iguana that had B News freaked out was talking to them, and are trying to sell it to some other drug casualty as a talking iguana.

I went in a few weeks ago after eating breakfast at the Ramova, looking for treats for Emmy. Her hip pointer was really bad then (better now), so I was looking for something heavy in glucosamine. I walked in the shop and saw a giant cage on the main counter with a rabbit inside, a bunch of iceberg lettuce, and newspaper to col
lect the droppings. I asked the lady at the counter if they stocked glucosamine treats. She looked at me and asked blankly, "What's that?" Then a cockatiel perched in the back of the store let out this bloodcurdling shriek and sized us up like our eyes were treats. I slowly backed up and got the hell out of there. They do seem to have made fast friends with the Ramova staff, even going so far as to synchronize their smoke breaks together.

Finally, I'm stoked about this new album by CéU, a young Brazilian singer who combines samba and bossa nova with trip hop and droning house rhythms. Her debut album on Six Degrees Records reminds me a bit of labelmate Cibelle's debut record. CéU is the first "international" (an even more generic term than "world music") artist to be featured on Starbucks' Hear Music series, because apparently they can't sell enough Norah Jones records with the venti lattes. But they actually got this pick right, as CéU's music is catchy as all get out; I totally expect to hear this as background music in some bistro real soon. It's on heavy rotation on the sudoPod right now. CéU is playing HotHouse on April 19th, and I'm including a couple tracks for you to grok. Hopefully, you'll get off your duffs and decide to buy tickets. It should be a good show.

CéU: Roda

CéU: Ave Cruz

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