Sunday, November 13, 2016

Moretti's breaks ground in Morton Grove

There's a Moretti's being built where Maxwell's was, until 2003, on Dempster St. just east of Lehigh and the tracks. 
Reliable source says it due to open at
6415 Dempster St. Morton Grove in 2017.

This has irritated me. My thoughts: Yeah, just what we need, another restaurant chain venue. My opinion has softened, however, after dining at their restaurant in Hoffman Estates last night. The prices were reasonable. The vibe was friendly. Known for it's Italian-American fare, the menu's selection was wider than expected.

I got pasta carbonara for $13.99. As predicted, the portion was huge. I'll be consuming that for two more days. 

The atmosphere reminded me of a fancier Portillo's, but with waitstaff. Our waiter seemed knowledgeable and poised. Reservations are accepted.

One of the appetizers was grilled calamari. It was made well, not too chewy. Fish was not on their regular menu, but was offered as a special. They offer gluten-free items. Their beer menu was substantial, included IPAs (which is kinda lost on me as I don't drink beer). 

I expect I'll go there with family or with a few friends.

All that said, I feel sympathy for the neighbors in that 'hood. That was a lovely green space. Now construction has started. When construction is done, the peacefulness will be then be disrupted by lots of traffic, I'm guessing. I hope they won't be open too late so those folks can sleep well. I'm also concerned for Giordano's, also on Dempster in Morton Grove. I hope it won't draw too many customers away from them. Hopefully some commuters using the Morton Grove Metra stop will stop in at Moretti's before they go home.

I'm not worried about other Morton Grove restaurants, nor the Old Orchard or downtown Skokie eateries. Moretti's pizza is good -- my tablemates shared theirs with me -- but Village Inn is a place like no other. Libertad. Yolo. Both unique and too special for Moretti's to compete with. Supposedly Kabul House will have moved--love their hospitality, aushak, kabobs and tea especially--just east of McCormick on Dempster by the time MG Moretti's opens next year.

More about that bit of land: Condos were to be built there, but alas...more here.

Friday, November 4, 2016


My friend Bill Campbell is the best.
He taught me what LOVE is an acronym for--Letting Our Vision Expand.

Friday, September 2, 2016

Polio eradicated...almost

One day, very soon, polio will be no more.
When I say soon, I mean SOON.
The potential for this insidious disease to hurt anyone else will be eliminated.
Humankind will have much to celebrate.
It has been a long fight by those afflicted, families of the afflicted, volunteers worldwide and organizations such as Rotary International, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, to name a few.

You'll read a lot about it via various news organizations when that big day comes. That's good. On Tuesday, September 6, however, at Rotary International's headquarters in Evanston, you can hear more first-hand and ask your own questions. That's even better.

Those expected to share stories include Nigeria's Abdulrahman "Tunji" Funsho, Pakistan's Aziz Memon, England's Judith Diment, plus Tennessee's John Germ, Maine's Michael K. McGovern and Illinois's own John Hewko.

Learn more on Rotary's event page.
Yes. It will be a "free" forum, but if you have some cash to spare, bring it. They'll surely be passing the hat.
No. It seems Archie Panjabi will not be there.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Diving into Radio with the Boys at WCGO

I've been earnestly making pictures with cameras since the early 1980s and went pro late in that decade. I'll always be a photographer, but am expanding the media I work in.

Now I'm hanging out with these guys--Sonar Greene, Kevin Burgess and Daniel French--at local radio station "Smart Talk" WCGO, 1590 on the a.m. dial. The station is part of GAB Radio Network. Headquartered on Evanston's west side, both are growing, which is rare to say given the nature of the media industry these days.

I'm currently serving as the station's social media producer.
I'm learning radio and podcasting while bring my unique perspective--and estrogen--to this table. I'm excited and a little frightened. These dudes challenge me and I challenge them in my way.  Other brothers I'm working with include Matt, Ben, Mike, Larry, Isi, "Chicago Pete" and Chuck. More about them soon.

Pleased to be working with them.
Wish us luck.

Simon says...

Monday, July 18, 2016

Spam Fun with James Veitch

Nope. James Veitch is not from Skokie. He's British and funny. I feature him here because what Skokie, Chicago, Illinois, the USA and the world need now is love sweet love...and funny. Here's 9 minutes of chuckles for you.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Let's Rock Out All Summer

Some Fourth of July and other summer music to us to rock out to!
(Sorry about the intrusive commercials, but thanks nonetheless, Spotify.)
Let's have a happy and safe summer.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Joy and Humor: Find it where you will

“…there's true courage in this kind of unfiltered joy.”
— Brene Brown referring to Candace Payne/Happy Chewbacca Mom appreciate Brené Brown point: I'd add healthy stubbornness.

Because we humans are so connected, just exposing one's self to someone else laughing and being joyful feels so good. It’s life affirming. Ergo there’s no mystery as to why this humble video clip has become so popular.

And because we are so connected, the flip side is true too. Being exposed to certain brands of fear/unkindness is really hard on a person and their connection to whomever is expressing it.


Joy and humor can be found in unexpected places. Being fine with having felt it and expressed it takes some courage and stubbornness.

To this day I'm very impressed by a specific scene in the The Interrupters--a movie about interrupting violence before it happens in Chicago--and sometimes I crack up a little even after seeing it for the upteenth time. The first time I saw it was during a presentation by one of the film's creators to a bunch of young journalists. At the end of his clip's showing, I laughed loudly...alone. I've shared the clip with others and no one has yet shared my joy. The 3.5 minute scene starts with a guy-with-a-gun wanting to kill someone and ends with the guy-with-a-gun going to lunch with two Cease Fire guys. I've nicknamed this scene "The Power of Lunch". I find joy in the scene because it shows how important just feeding and listen to someone is.

Early in the Spotlight movie I cracked up watching it. Journalists and only some “civilians” can understand why the scene between new newsroom chief Marty Baron/Schrieber and investigative team chief Robby Robinson/Keaton at the restaurant is so funny. After the film screening I’d hosted, a colleague said aloud what I was thinking: Seems strange to laugh doing a movie about reporting on sexual abuse of children by clergy. Yes and no. I think that was part of the movie’s brilliance.

During the declining health of certain family elders, gallows humor was flying fast and furious. Much of it is now part of our family’s history. One legendary story: My grandfather/Lawrence announced to my grandmother/Mildred “Take me to Scott’s [funeral home]. I’m ready to go.” My grandmother replied, “Can’t do that. You’re not dead yet.”  Someone not knowing my grandparents might not find that humorous.

Mildred’s attitude about her advanced age and declining health was impressive to me. “Well, if you have to be in a nursing home, this one’s not too bad.” At times she’d ponder aloud “Why am I still here?” or “I don’t know why I’m still here”, which was not a reference to the nursing home. One of us would sometimes reply “Because only the good die young, Grandma.” Never the party pooper, at her 96th birthday gathering, Mildred acquiesced and muttered “Four More Years”, while rolling her eyes.

Humor happens. Lucky us.

I invite your thoughts and stories.

Always fashionable, confetti complements Mildred's dress.
[Photo by young Karen Kring, I think]

Friday, April 22, 2016

TV Talk with Blanca Rios and Michael Wall April 27

To know me is to know I'm a connector, convener and sharer. I'm all about helping bridge the gap between people of different backgrounds in all sorts of ways, plus instigating as much fun as possible.

With that said, I’m hosting a gathering for friends and neighbors to meet my lovely TV news colleagues Blanca Rios and Michael Wall. They will share stories about working in TV and what it is like behind the scenes.

Blanca Rios (top) and Michael Wall.

You’re invited for stories, conversation and a nice time.

If you've been on-air or produced TV, come share your stories.
If you want to be on TV, bring all your questions. This will be a very friendly gathering where there will be no such thing as a dumb question.
When: Wednesday, April 27, 7-8 p.m.
Where: Evanston

RSVP: Contact me at I'll give you the full address.
Seating is limited so RSVP ASAP.

Cost: We'll pass a hat to cover refreshments and other expenses. (Want to bring some goodies. Cool.)

Sponsors: None. Just me.
Blanca Rios works at ABC 7 Chicago as an Assignment Desk Editor/Field Producer/Writer. She's president of the National Association for Hispanic Journalists-Chicago chapter.

Michael Wall produces ABC 7’s special event coverage — the Auto Show, St. Patrick's Day parade, Bud Billiken Day parade — and steps in occasionally for Windy City Live producers. He was the first bloke to be on the board of the Association for Women Journalists-Chicago.

[Photo of Michael Wall: © Judy Fidkowski]

Friday, February 12, 2016

Daily Herald film critic Dann Gire and I host special screening of SPOTLIGHT February 22

My colleague Dann Gire is on the Chicago Headline Club board of directors.
I'm on the Chicago Headline Club Foundation board of directors.

Dann founded the Chicago Film Critics Association and leads it.
I founded a non-profit and have led a bunch of organizations and initiatives.

He cares about the health and welfare of journalism and journalists.
So do I.

He writes and critiques for the Daily Herald.
I worked at newspapers. Now I write and shoot pictures for clients. I critique occasionally.

He remembers us meeting in person a long time ago.
I don't, but take his word for it.

We like Egg Harbor.

Now we are friends and seeing what we can make happen for the sake of journalism.

To discuss distributing scholarships and fundraising, we met for lunch in late January and things picked up speed.

Quickly we planned the special February 22 screening and discussion of the Oscar-nominated film SPOTLIGHT to raise funds for scholarships and further the conversation with the public about journalism's role in our society.

You are invited, friends and neighbors.

We'll be meeting at the storied Lake Street Screening Room, known as Siskel and Ebert's screening room. It's intimate with only 55 seats.

After watching the acclaimed movie about the Boston Globe investigative team's work that shined a light on the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, Dann will lead a discussion which will include Fr. Jim Swarthout* and Sarah Karp.

Wise, funny and an expert on addiction and mental health, Jim is a former Catholic priest and currently an Episcopal priest.

Key in uncovering the fact that Chicago Public School's chief Barbara Byrd-Bennett accepted kickbacks in exchange for hiring a principal training firm, Sarah is an investigative reporter focused on education, children and families in Chicago.

We'll talk about how to wrap our heads around news of the violation of children by clergy, plus journalism's responsibility to pursue to truth and transparency, and anything else participants deem worthy.

I hope you can come. This is a great chance for "civilians" and journalists to meet and discuss what we can possibly make happen for the greater good.

Refreshments will be served.


*Jimmy is my cousin. Our grandfathers grew up in Evanston. He and I are both Rotarians.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bernstein, Brahms, Berlin, Bruch: Skokie Concert Choir's Winter Concert January 24

For more information, see the concert's Facebook event page.


Music is a moral law. It gives soul to the universe, 
wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and 
charm and gaiety to life and to everything. ~ Plato