Outdoor grilling: A guide to make sure we all get along

(Published May 30, 2019)

By Jon Cohn

Summertime is upon us, and with it comes one of the great pleasures of the long days and warm weather: outdoor grilling.

That scrumptious smell of steak, burgers, chicken or fish cooking on the grill. Rubbing them all with your favorite sauces, maybe some grilled veggies and, of course, the sound of one’s favorite beverage popping open.

It all sounds great, and it usually is.

But there are some challenges, especially for those living in the city with shared grilling areas and much closer quarters than suburban backyard. This requires a little common courtesy and understanding with the neighbors.

For instance, those living in condo buildings with designated areas often find themselves in situations where the number of grillers is greater than the number of grills.

I have seen instances where more than the grill gets overheated.

Occasionally, the group cooking experience looks more like a rugby scrum, complete with pushing shoving, and a few far less-than-polite verbal jabs. People get caught up in the conflict and, tragically, the meat on the grill gets neglected. Never let this happen!

Cooking on your own balcony comes with its own challenges. Respecting nearby neighbors, keeping the area clean as possible and bring sound down to a minimum. And don’t sweep any excess off the balcony onto floors below. That is a huge condo no-no.

When it comes to safety, Chicago Fire Department Chief Walter Schroeder said it’s best to grill in the shared grilling facilities, but if a balcony must be used then an electric grill is best.

“Obviously charcoal grills are very dangerous on a balcony,” he said. “That’s not something that should be utilized in that type of an environment.”

He added propane grills are both dangerous and illegal in most apartments and condos with more than occupants in the whole building.

“It acts like a bomb if it should have a leak,” he said of propane tanks.

And no matter what sort of grill is used, Chief Schroeder said cooks need to remember some basic safety tips.

“We want to make sure you’re practicing fire safety,” he said. “Don’t leave the grill unattended. Don’t leave it too close to the building. Don’t let children or pets around it. Sometime pets can knock it over. Really, those are all common sense practices, but sometimes we forget these things and get carried away.”

Beyond safety, downtown residents will want to remember courtesy, too—especially when using a shared space.

Some additional dos and don’ts to help prevent barbecuing courtyard anarchy:

Do come prepared, so when you get to the grill you are ready to go without delay.

Don’t hover over somebody who is doing their cooking while waiting for your turn.

Do offer to share your grill if there is room to spare.

Don’t forget to scrape and clean the grill when you are done. Ditto for the grilling utensils.

Do feel free to strike up conversation. Grilling can be a great way to make new friends.

Don’t talk so much you neglect the meat. Many wonderful cuts of beef have gone to over-charred heaven due to the griller flirting with a neighbor.

Do enjoy the experience and take in all the wonderful smells that bring joy to our olfactory senses.

With a dash of patience and a pinch of friendliness and common courtesy will make the outdoor grilling season more enjoyable for everyone.

The ups and downs of riding on elevators with dogs

Jon Cohn

Let’s talk for a minute about man’s best friend. No, not the cell phone, but instead  our beloved fine, furry, fluffy friends.

We all know, of course, dogs are part of the neighborhood scene here in Chicago. Most love the idea. The unique connection of man and dog goes without saying,  and who amongst us hasn’t reached out at times for a hard to resist friendly petting of a nearby strangers dog.

But, we do have to be respectful of the fact that not everyone shares this close connection with dogs. Especially when it comes to riding the elevator.

So we offer up here some quick friendly reminders for dog owners when their beloved pets are joined by other passengers in a sometimes very-close-to-each-other elevator ride:

For one, try and keep your dog sitting, and as far from the other riders personal space as possible. If Mr. or Mrs.  Elevator Stranger asks about the dog or wants to pet it, be as open as you (and your dog) feel comfortable.

When the elevator door opens, and this requires a little reading of the body language of your other riders, let them go out first. Most, of course will signal you with your dog to go first–but just in case, be ready to step back.

Of course no sniffing, barking or worse yet growling–from you or your pet. Those go without saying and are the trademarks of a well trained dog (or well trained owner).

The issue while insignificant to some, can, in fact,  be problematic for others.

Harbor Point resident Monica-a non dog owner states, “ there are definitely a few people in our building who are terrified when they get on the elevator and there is a large dog.  Sometimes even the small dogs are afraid!”

Aqua building manager Alana reflects many of our nearby buildings, “ we have no written policy about dogs riding on elevators, and really in my years here we have had very few complaints.”

Bottom line, gang? We are all in this together. Strangers,  often thrown together for a brief moment in time.

With a little common sense and basic respect we can all enjoy the ride down to the ground floor, and that includes man’s best friend.

First we learn to crawl, then we learn … to drink?

By Jon Cohn

I’m not sure how the great tradition of the “pub crawl” started.

I’m not even sure that Chicago is the home for these particular events, but based on the number of them coming up we might as well be.

For those not familiar with this unique concept, let’s loosely call it a form of recreation, socialization, physical exercise (remember, there is walking involved!), and of course drinking. The basic idea—and there have been many takes on this—is for groups of people to meet with a common theme and wander to various drinking establishment in the assigned area. One drink per location. A rule, not surprisingly, that is broken early and often.

As you can see from the description, the concept isn’t very complicated. The beauty in its simplicity.

Here’s the good part: Whether you are a veteran pub crawler or a novice looking for a new experience, there are plenty of opportunities to get in on the fun coming up later this month.

St. Patrick’s Day alone offers several opportunities.

Among your selections would be the Irish Stroll Pub Crawl in River North, the Wicker Park Bar Crawl, the Lincoln Park Bar Crawl, the Division Street Bar crawl, the Logan Square Bar crawl, and the Shamrock Crawl in Wrigleyville—again, all on St. Patrick’s Day. There’s no lack of opportunity to “get your crawl on” if you so desire.

Can’t make it St. Patrick’s Day but the idea still interest you? No worries. There are many more to come, such as the Cultural Crawl (drink and explore new neighborhoods) on April 13, The Office Trivia Bar crawl April 6, and the Cover Your Bases bar crawl in Wrigleyville on May 18.  September, October and Halloween bring on another barrage of potential pub crawl experiences.

Check out eventbrite.com/d/il–chicago/pub-crawl for more complete listings.

Final note: These pub crawls often start at 8 a.m.— yes a.m. — not a typo.  Pub crawls are apparently not for the faint of heart (or liver).

Mind your manners in a new relationship

By Leontina Richardson | President of Stepping into Etiquette

Leontina Richardson, President
of Stepping into Etiquette

Valentine’s Day is fast approaching. If you’re in a new relationship, this day might be a big deal because you want to do everything right. How do you do that?

  1. Ask rather than assume. If you are exclusive with someone, you might expect to spend the evening together, but check with your date first. Your partner might have to work, or perhaps your partner made plans to attend a concert with friends before you met. You should still ask him or her out on a date — the old fashion way.
  2. Plan the evening. After a few weeks of dating, hopefully you know a little about your date’s interests, so pick something that they will enjoy. A few years ago, my date took me to a banjo concert — yes, a BANJO concert. Why? Because he had an eclectic taste in music and wanted to see the show. Let’s just say it wasn’t my favorite Valentine’s Day. When planning your evening, you need to think about your partner’s interests—not yours!
  3. Make sure your date knows what to expect. Surprises are great, but let the person know what to wear so that he or she isn’t over- or under-dressed. If you plan a fun night of bowling, you don’t want your date showing up in a cocktail dress.
  4. Be on time. . Try your best to be on time in case your date has made reservations or has tickets to a comedy club with a set-time for when doors close. Have your purse and lipstick ready when your date arrives.
  5. Bring a gift. Since it’s a new relationship, you don’t have to purchase an extravagant gift, but something thoughtful will make a good impression. His favorite book, her favorite bottle of wine, a modest bouquet, or a DIY trinket are all charming ideas. You can never go wrong with a card with a nice note inside.
  6. Be present. Stay off of social media. You don’t have to record or take pictures of your evening out, so wait to take pictures of the flowers until you get home. Be present in the moment.

If your date plans something small, like a night in, but you’d rather do something fancier, don’t assume that your relationship is headed south. You’re still learning about each other. Valentine’s Day is just another day, so here’s wishing all the lovely couples out there many more dates to come.

Leontina Richardson is the president of Stepping into Etiquette, a training firm specializing in business etiquette, manners, and hospitality. For more information, visit the company website at www.steppingintoetiquette.com.

Football fandom for complete dummies

By Tom Conroy |

Staff Writer

The weather is cooling off and the leaves are starting to change, which means it’s time to stay inside all day Sunday and watch football. That’s an easy task if you are a football diehard like myself. However, that can be far more daunting for someone who may only be a casual fan or for someone who does not watch at all. If this is you, and you find yourself at a bar or a Sunday watch party, here is how to get by like a pro:

 

  1. Following multiple games is necessary

 

Your friends might all be Bears fans, but don’t be alarmed if someone insists on switching over to the Steelers-Bengals game. It probably means that someone at your gathering has Ben Roethlisberger or A.J. Green in their fantasy game. Things can get even more confusing if your host has the NFL RedZone channel, which switches between games automatically if a team is close to scoring. If you find yourself lost, just latch on to the Bears’ bandwagon and cheer whenever you see the navy-blue-and-orange pop up on the screen.

 

  1. Everyone hates Roger Goodell, and you do, tooYour friends will probably bring up the NFL commissioner at least once and it will be negative. Whether it has to do with the national anthem, concussion protocols, new penalty rules or his absurd $200 million contract, Goodell will always draw the ire of fans regardless of their viewpoints. Do not waste time forming your own opinions about the man; just hiss whenever you hear his name.
  2. Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady are necessary evil

Bears fans are sick of losing to Rodgers and the Packers. The entire NFL is sick of watching Brady and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. However, refrain from wishing season-ending injuries on either quarterback. I was at the Bears-Packers season opener at Lambeau Field and witnessed Bears fan cheering at the sight of Rodgers leaving the field with a potential knee injury only to exclaim in agony when he returned later in the game to pull off the victory. Guess what? It was one of the most exciting and compelling games I’ve ever watched. Rodgers and Brady may win all the time, but football is more compelling when they are on the screen. If you hear your friends complaining, remind them how unwatchable the Packers were last year with A.J. Hundley at QB.

 

  1. Sundays are now your new cheat dayDiets are hard when pizza, wings, beer and every other game-day-indulgence surround you. If you know that you will be gorging yourself on Sunday, plan ahead. Get in your exercise and healthy eating during the week. Pack some fruit if it is a potluck gathering. And make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid a Monday hangover.

Published October 2, 2018

Unbearable: The best jerseys to troll Bears fans

By Tom Conroy | Staff Writer

When I first got to Milwaukee, I received strange looks whenever I wore my favorite football jersey because of the name “FAVRE” stitched on the back.

Little did I know that students on campus, most of whom were Packers fans, were still bitter about Brett Favre going back on his retirement following the 2007 season to play for the Jets. This experience made me wonder about how other teams’ fans felt when they saw certain players’ jerseys, so I asked some Chicago Bears fans what would incite their rage.

Brett Favre: Packers fans may have been upset with Favre for a few years, but Bears fans will probably hate Favre forever. Fans always feel the strongest about divisional rivals, and the Hall of Fame quarterback posted a 22-10 career record against the Chicago Bears.

“I would rip their Favre jersey off,” joked Adam Ruff of Crown Point, Indiana.

Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady: Nationwide, these two share the distinction of being hated because of their dominance as the two best quarterbacks in the league.

Like Favre, Rodgers is an easy target of animosity because he’s the Packers quarterback (and he boasts a 16-4 record against the Bears). I was surprised to hear from so many Bears fans about the Patriots QB. “The problem with Brady is that he’s a great player on a great team with a great system and still he cheats,” said Jesse Patton, Jr., referring to the “Deflategate” scandal of 2015 when Brady was suspended for four games for allegedly tampering with the air in the footballs.

Rex Grossman: Grossman has the distinction of being the only Bears alumnus that came up. After all, he is blamed for Chicago’s loss to the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLI. Considered to be the weakest link on the team during the 2006 season, Grossman threw for only 165 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions in the 29-17 Super Bowl loss.

Players linked to controversies:

There were several players who came up based on incidents off the field. Bears fans mentioned Ray Rice because of his assault of his then-fiancée that was caught on video, while Colin Kaepernick came up because of his kneeling during the national anthem.

The takeaway: Avoid the jerseys of players whose actions off the field are discussed more than their performance on field.

Published September 4, 2018

What’s in a name? Cool and funky boat names of DuSable Harbor

By Jon Cohn

Published August 2, 2018

 

What’s in a name?:  Meet the boats of DuSable and Monroe harbors

For most of us who aren’t lucky enough to own a boat, having them around us at the DuSable and Monroe harbors is a true pleasure.

 

Call it boat envy, but there is something about being around the docks and taking in all the sights, sounds and even the smells of the waterfront that help make our New Eastside so special.

 

I started to wonder, though, about all the interesting boat names. There are stories behind them all, I am sure. On a recent visit, I brought along the old reporter’s notebook and jotted down some of my favorites.

 

Proud vessels included the Weekend Retreat, the Aquation, the Sea Weed, the Out of The Blue, the Endless Nights and one boat way too caught-up with itself, the Handsome Pete.

We spotted, the Veni Vidi Veatchi (I would have gone with the Livin’ La Vida Loco), the Off Balance (count me out for a ride on that one), the My Anesthetic (I hear ya there), the Sail-Vation, the Prestige II (what, one wasn’t enough to rub it in?), the Painkiller, and the Fearless.

Not to leave out, the Eclipse, the Mini Me, the Glad It’s Over, the Sea Beaux, and—be careful here editor—the BullShip.

My personal favorite? In big bold letters staring straight at the DuSable Harbor, the We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat. Yep, pretty much says it all doesn’t it?

These are great names and I am sure there are stories behind them all.

Don’t get too envious of the boat owners though; owning a boat is a lot of responsibility. There is an old saying that goes, “The two best days of a boaters life are one, when he buys a boat, and two, when he sells it.”

 

Chicago Tribune moves to New Eastside

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

This June, the Chicago Tribune staff will be making the trek up Randolph Street to their new digs at the Prudential Plaza.

New Eastside residents, keep your eyes out for some familiar faces wandering around—you might see the person whose column you read in the morning. The team behind the newspaper will now be in New Eastside—reporters, columnists, editors, copy editors, marketing reps, office personnel, advertising folks and of course, my favorite person, the one in charge of
the obituary page.

Keep in mind, this is not just your standard, location-based move. This one is dramatic for the Tribune’s employees, some of whom might feel sad that executives from the paper’s parent company Tronc, Inc., sold the paper’s namesake office building, the Tribune Tower at 435 N. Michigan Ave., which had been the newspaper’s home since 1935.

The tower was recently sold for a cool $205 million. With renovations and major changes planned, Tronc Inc. had to make a move. After an extensive search of a variety of locations, the company settled on the New Eastside building, One Prudential Plaza.

The Tribune will occupy the second through fourth floors, but if you want to mingle with the head honchos of Tronc, you will have to go a little bit higher. The corporate offices will be on the top two floors of the 41-story building.

As we welcome employees of Chicago Tribune to New Eastside this month, it doesn’t matter that it’s a 171-year-old newspaper—they are still the new kids moving into the neighborhood. Remember what we were told in our childhood days? “Make sure you are nice to the new kids.”

They may feel a little bit shy or a touch unsure while still getting used to
their new surroundings.

New kids, we understand it’s tough to move after being in one location for so long—83 years—but we think you will find our neck of the woods quite welcoming.

Cohn-Fuscious thought for the month: “Whoever said nothing is impossible never tried slamming a revolving door.”

Published June 5, 2018

Perspective: No bronze medal for Wanda, up for sale

By Jon Cohn | Community Contributor

Published March 4, 2018

In case you haven’t heard, there have been a few twists and turns in the saga of our omnipresent Wanda Vista building, 363 E. Wacker Dr., which has now been knocked to fourth place in the “tallest building” category. To add insult to injury, the building is now up for sale which leads us to speculate…will the building be getting a new name?

Touted as being Chicago’s third tallest building—which would stand 1,191 feet at completion in 2019—we took pride in bragging that Wanda Visita would land us the bronze medal for Chicago’s tall buildings right in our own backyard. But we found out Los Angeles-based CIM group has announced plans for a 1,338- foot structure—a.k.a. monstrosity—at 201 E. Illinois St. in the parking lot behind the Tribune Tower, 435 N. Michigan Ave.

To add salt to our already wounded New Eastside ego, Wanda Vista is up for sale.

Before it is even completely built? What’s that all about?

Billionaire Wang Jianlin’s, Dallian Wanda Group, the proud creators of the Wanda Vista have apparently gone “Hasta La Vista.” According to Bloomberg News, increased scrutiny by Chinese regulators into Wanda’s overseas investments have forced the company to sell the property.

New owners are being sought as you read this (I did put a bid in, but haven’t heard
back yet). As we all hold our breath to see if the Hancock Tower will follow the Sears Tow-
er in yet another mind jarring renaming, we find ourselves wondering if Chicago’s
fourth-tallest tower will find a new name as whimsical as “Wanda Vista.”

Yet construction goes onward and up-ward. The building’s almighty and inescapable footprint is growing bigger. The early morning builder’s noise wake-up call will still be with us, and the great parade of trucks will continue on a daily basis.

Coach’s Corner

New Eastside entering tween years

By John Cohn | Community Contributor

In an interesting and uplifting gathering, the staff of New Eastside News got together for an annual staff-wide meeting. It was a refreshing mix of both young and old. Actually, truth be told, mostly young—I think I was a party of one representing “the old.” Nevertheless, it is great to see so many new and enthusiastic young reporters jumping on board for our newspaper. During the meeting, we discussed anything and everything in regards to our neighborhood and the many potential stories and creative ideas.

I found it interesting that the overriding factor is one I hear and even “feel” all the time here in New Eastside—how lucky we are to be living in such a unique neighborhood of the city.

Many Chicagoans are only just discovering our area and some are not even aware it exists, but that is okay. We don’t mind growing up at a normal pace without all the mad rush. That, I am sure, will come soon enough.

Speaking of growing up, this got me thinking about where our neighborhood is in its current stage of development. Construction on the Lakeshore East part of the neighborhood started in 2004, so, could you say our neighborhood is at the preteen stage, waiting for the onset of the dreaded teenage years? With new buildings going up, and infrastructure changes, we might be in for a full course of upheaval, angst and uncomfortable disturbances.

But have faith. We will survive that teenage period, as all people do, and then sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor, as the neighborhood enters young adulthood, and later, blissful middle age.

Oh, and one final note to all those young whippersnapper reporters joining our staff—back off. This old guy here plans on sticking around for a while and is not planning on giving up this “Coach’s Corner” anytime soon.

Cohn-Fucius thought for the month: Someday is not a day of the week.

Cars and makeshift structures currently fill the site where the new IJKL towers will be built in New Eastside. Photo by B. David Zarley.

1 2 3 4