Chicago's DIY Trunk Show (PHOTOS)

The Chicago Craft Mafia held its 7th annual DIY Trunk Show in Pulaski Park’s field house on Saturday. With 95 vendors participating, it was a hippy-hipster wet dream.

Rose Lannin of Wonder Wheel makes necklaces with antique train tokens as pendants.  Lannin buys the tokens for her pendants from collectors on ebay who view the tokens as worthless. The coins have no value  since “they’ve been handled by a million people”  but to Lannin, that makes them even more appealing. A number of tokens even have inscriptions explaining the metal used is from parts of the train, doubling the recycled value of her necklaces.

Christina Ward was hesitant at first to let me photograph her Creatures, and my subsequent conversation with her confirmed my suspicions about some trunk show goers coming to scope out the merchandise so they can make their own at home. Ward explained why she is protective of her creations since her craft is like a “full-time job in hours, but not in pay”. Besides stuffed animals, Ward also makes quilts and rugs, anything to “get her creative ya-ya’s out”.  This is Ward’s first year at the DIY Trunk Show.

Leah Parkhurst of Rustbelt Fiberwerks observed the shopping patterns of the day, saying “everyone’s been taking their time, making conscientious choices, which is a good thing”. Amanda Shell of Whirleygirl Designs seconded the notion, explaining that while people aren’t buying as much as she’d like, she has received “a lot of custom orders”.  This is Shell’s first experience at the DIY Trunk Show: “It’s been fun. I will definitely come back next year.” Amanda Shell is also a mural artist and has worked with Chicago Cares.

Amy Carlton, a DIY Trunk Show co-founder, believes that this year was their biggest turn-out.  Carlton explained via e-mail that the CCM receives a couple hundred applications for the 95 booth slots at the DIY Trunk Show, so each application faces a jury in order to ensure there isn’t too much of the same thing.

…we always reserve a percentage of all the spaces for crafters who are new to selling — DIY is some vendors’ first or second show. It’s really important to us to encourage new craft businesses and get more people involved in the handmade revolution. We keep our vendor fees low for the same reason.

-Amy Carlton

Laurie Freivogel of Kiku says the DIY trunk show is “one of my favorite shows” and this is her 6th time. “There’s a nice craft community in Chicago, people really know each other and support each other” Freivogel adds. Lydia Krupinski of Pierogi Picnic elaborated: “The DIY movement is intense and I’m excited to be a part of it. The Green movement and the crafters are codependent and intertwined and in the last 2 years it’s exploded here in Chicago.” Krupinski was also a DIY Trunk show virgin, but has been making her own clothes for “a long time”.

Toys by Steff Bomb, Dog Sweaters by Lucky Penny Hand Made, Edgewater Soaps by David Melis, Rings by Blue Lala, hats & knits by Enjolive + LBO Studio, Feltmates by Yoko Nomura, Reuseful Objects, prints, paper by laurageorge, artwork by Emily K Berman, Bobby-Jean of Kitty Grrlz, Christina Ward Creatures, artwork by octophant.us, cloth products by Qylaar, knits by Girl With a Hook, Circa Ceramics

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Jonathan Safran Foer forgets his wealth

Jonathan Safran Foer at the 2007 Brooklyn Book...

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Jonathan Safran Foer will be reading and discussing his new book, “Eating Animals“, at the Harold Washington Library tonight. Foer has been on a media blitz lately, from appearing on Ellen, to writing a piece in the Washington Post about eating dogs, to name a few.  “Eating Animals” is solidly pro-vegetarian, and rehashes the well-known evils of factory farming:

The treatment of animals in today’s factory-farm system is so horrifying, it’s enough simply to know it exists to want it to end. Fittingly, long stretches the book chronicle the unhappy lives of chickens, unable to walk, unable to fly, unable even to reproduce; pigs — intelligent creatures — confined, beaten, and slaughtered; fish gaffed in the eye or the side, writhing gills slit. Vast fields of pig manure seeping into the water table. A million different viral threads stuck in the sick bodies of doped-up chickens just waiting to make the species jump.

via Flavorwire

While it’s all well and good that Foer wants animals to be treated more ethically, he doesn’t seem to offer a solution to feed the poor and hungry that consume these factory farm meats.  When asked on Ellen how he would respond to families struggling to put food on their tables, who resort to buying chicken nuggets off the dollar meal at McDonald’s, these  very families who can’t afford to eat any other way, Foer responded with “We can’t afford to eat this way”. Great. Has Foer lost touch with reality? Natalie Portman wrote a piece on the Huffington Post about “Eating Animals” and how reading it converted her into a vegan, and she opens her post stating she hates when people criticize each others choices. I love you Natalie Portman, and you may deny the ivy tower you live in all you want, but please keep in mind that you are far removed from the stink of every day living, of the foreclosures, lay-offs, and lack of health insurance. Not eating meat is the last thing people are worried about right now.

Foer does make some good points, like how the American dream of what a farm looks like in our minds  is far removed from reality, that factory farming is a main contributor to global warming, our drugs aren’t as effective now that our meat is injected with anti-bodies, and H1N1 is the result of factory farming. And it is a tragedy that Americans are so disconnected from their food. When I visit my family overseas, I feed the rabbit I will eat later, I collect eggs from a chicken coup, and I cuddle both animals. I tend to think they live a nice life with my Hungarian relatives, and it’s depressing that eating meat has different “consequences” in America.

Jonathan Safran Foer’s highlighting of America’s problem with meat could be called noble, but this is a problem that will take years to rectify. Everyone knows we should be driving fuel efficient electric cars, but we’re not. Electric cars are not able to serve the needs of all or the majority of consumers, and the same applies to organic and sustainable farming. Until someone who is earning minimum wage can afford the products from these organic farms, we really haven’t done anything of consequence.  The goal of these organic sustainable farms should be to lower their prices and make themselves accessible to the general public. Not everyone has access to land and the time to tend to their chickens and rabbits, nor do they have the time to go to the “organic” farms highlighted on Foer’s website.

But yeah, go hear Foer read and lecture at the Harold Washington Library tonight, to heckle him, be converted into a vegan, or  to get a copy of one of his other books signed.


Citizens step up as budget cuts kill community centers

Tate Gallery graffiti 1

Image by suvodeb via Flickr

Three teenagers were shot in the last 10 days in Albany Park. While the state slashes funding for various programs, including youth services, the local community is left to pick up the pieces.  Our Lady of Mercy Church, The Albany Park Neighborhood Council and  life-long resident Eric Criniere are leading the pack.

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Illinois Green Party feels threatened by 24 year old

Citizens registered as an Independent, Democra...

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The race for Cook County Board President just got a little bit more interesting:

While the petition battles of Todd Stroger and Dorothy Brown have occupied the minds of political junkies watching the Cook CountyBoard President’s race, another petition challenge of interest has gone by unnoticed.

Green Party candidate Tom Tresser, who made a name for himself as the leader of the anti-Olympics group No Games Chicago, has challenged the petitions of his Green Party primary opponent Sean Burke upon finding out that Burke is associated with the web address for the Cook County Young Democrats.

via NBC Chicago “Green Party Candidate Challenges Primary Rival’s Affiliation

Little information about Sean Burke is available, but the Green Party is already in a tizzy. Green Party Watch went and wrote a piece about how the Democrats are “playing dirty tricks”  and cited another example of a Green Party candidate being challenged in another district as proof. Further investigation on the internets reveals that in the second case mentioned the Democratic nominee is also being challenged.   To add further fuel to this fire, Tresser went ahead and wrote on his blog why he was challenging Burke, saying:

The Machine has taken note of the Green Party and it’s entirely appropriate to protect the party from candidates who are running to mess with us. I and some of my mentors and Green Party allies believe that the party needs to protect itself from people who want to run as a Green but who do not hold to the core values of the party, are not reformers, are not fighters, who are serving the Daley-Stroger Machine and who actually want to damage viable Green party campaigns.

The whole thing sounds downright paranoid. If you scroll down the NBC link, Sean Burke made  the first comment on the story, and the only reaction to his post was by another commenter making fun of Burke’s website and telling him “you’re full of crap”. This Burke is 24 years old, and I buy his switch,  his disenchantment with the Young Democrats. The  Green Party platform is an interesting mix of Republican and Democratic ideas, and I myself can understand the appeal.  Everyone is always hammering on about how our two party system is broken, with the two parties we have bickering incessantly while slowly morphing into one another.  Is it that hard to believe someone from the Young Democrats would want to join the Green Party?

By Tresser calling out Burke (who may have just put his name on the ballot for a whim, because why not considering the politicians that run Chicago?) he may have actually helped Burke’s candidacy while also alienating potential Green Party members. I campaigned for Ron Paul and later Barack Obama, but if I now decide to join the Green Party will I too be called a spy and saboteur?


Hungarian Rhapsody: my family's escape from Communism

A Communist statue still standing in Budapest, extremely ironically called the "Statue of Liberty"

A Communist statue still standing in Budapest, extremely ironically called the "Statue of Liberty"

Today is the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a historic occasion the West marks as the collapse of communism. Months before the wall came down, Hungary had opened its own “Iron Curtain” of guard towers, mines, and electric fences that lined the border between Austria and Hungary. A family friend Lajos used to have the job of patrolling this border, and told me the story of how one day he threw off his body armor and gun, and told his fellow patrol guard and good friend that he couldn’t do it anymore. He ran for the border, and told his friend he could shoot him if he wanted. Needless to say, Lajos wasn’t shot, but he never saw his friend again.

Communism was never a natural fit for Hungary.  The country’s aristocratic past, as part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, never dimmed from memory.  After the 1956 uprising, Goulash Communism was instated to appease the populace.  It was because of this little bit of capitalism that my mother was able to open a flower shop in Budapest.  Still, the relationship with Hungary’s Communist leaders remained strained.

When the border between Austria and Hungary was opened in May 1989 (some say the Sopron Picnic in August was the official opening),  many Eastern Germans used this route through Hungary to get to Austria and back to West Germany.

I thought I would throw other Eastern-European nations into the media mix today by sharing the story of my Hungarian -American exodus.

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Local Chicagoan wants to dance on your enemy's grave for money

So I came across this gem today: a craigslist ad offering their dancing expertise, be it an Irish jig or some theatrical production complete with costumes, to smite your enemies by dancing on their grave. Each dance comes with a photo to prove that your money is being well spent. The poster offers different prices under the $50 range, with options including video footage if you so desire.

This service is available for those of you who have been wronged by the dead and need to (sic)  some sort of satisfaction in knowing that they are getting what they deserve.

via craigslist Grave Dancer for Hire

The craigslist user draws the line at doing lewd acts or desecrating the grave. This poster also claims to know people all over the US who would be willing to do this.  I think this person might be taking the expression “dancing on someone’s grave” literally, and for those who would believe in that sort of thing, wouldn’t you want to dance on your enemy’s grave yourself?

This post has inspired me to come up with a bunch of small business ideas, most of which include a “chopper” and stealing ice cream from your enemy’s  children.

[youtubevid id="AO1KsU1rG7s"]


The Flip Bike Trick

This is Travis. He rides a bike with a roll-bar welded to the frame which allows it to do a complete flip when he hits the brake.

- Being Totally Sweet in Chicago

Travis has no last name on the internet, built his own bike with the help of West Town Bikes, and has a couple of videos on youtube (the most recent below). It looks like he began his bike flip-trickery 2 years ago.

[youtubevid id="GQT7G7yeYr8"]


In Purple We Trust?

Barack and Michelle Obama board a plane in Chicago to St. Paul, Minnesota on June 3, 2008 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Barack and Michelle Obama board a plane in Chicago to St. Paul, Minnesota on June 3, 2008 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Purple purple everywhere. Purple shoes, jackets, blouses, shirts, ties, dresses, purses, belts- if your wardrobe needs updating, you buy purple, the fashionable color for the past two seasons (arguably, the color since last year). Why this color, the color long associated with royalty?

Do you remember those “Start Wearing Purple” ads by Yahoo? Where they referenced that gypsy punk song from 2005, “Start wearing purple“, by Gogol Bordello? This was around the same time that Yahoo changed their logo from red to purple. Did you see the date on that link? June 12th, 2008. Didn’t Michelle Obama wear a purple dress when her husband recieved the democratic nomination, on June 3rd? Michelle Obama wore a color that blended both political parties…. her color choice was symbolizing her husband’s willingness to work with both parties, to be bipartisan. Purple, the color that said everyone’s ideas would be incorporated, so we as a united nation could solve the many many problems that emerged during, out of, and because of, the last presidency’s handing of political and economic affairs.

Chances are, you have something purple in your closet, and it is new. So why are you wearing purple?  Are you aware that fashion houses grabbed onto this color because they love Michelle Obama?  I’ve acquired two purple items in the past couple of months- a blouse, and a pair of purple suede high heels (doubling my impractically purple suede heel count), and yeah, I respect the Obama administration and the idea of listening to everyone. Purple wearer,  do you too believe in incorporating everyone’s ideas? Do you too want to be inclusive and fix the problems that plague America? Are you willing to listen to the other side? Are you willing to compromise?

The date that marks one year after Obama was elected is upon us, and news outlets are questioning Obama’s accomplishments. The most popular problem of the day is healthcare, and while most Americans believe our healthcare system is broken, the effort to fix this problem stops at party lines (whether it’s over fear-mongering, ignorance, or just plain party line stubbornness), with Olympia Snowe being the exception. All this big government, little government talk is getting us no where in fixing America, and Obama is the only known and willing compromiser. I don’t see much bipartisan action going on, but I sure do see a lot of purple.  And frankly, it’s starting to make me sick.


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