Saturday, July 23, 2005

Gus Macker Tournament Hot!

Springfield's 2005 Gus Macker 3 on 3 Tournament is being held in downtown Springfield, Illinois this weekend. While temperatures are soaring, the event itself defines "cool".

Thousands of spectators will have a chance to root for competitors young, and old. If you plan to attend Sunday make sure that you use your sunblock, dress lightly, and don't forget to bring sunglasses, a hat, and water bottle (you can fill your waterbottles up once there).

The photo below was taken on Washington Street, between Sixth, and Seventh Street. Notice the level of intensity on the court, and the ways that the spectators are using to keep cool?

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I titled the photo below - Coca Cola Cops.

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This colorful photo was taken in front of Horace Mann on Jefferson Street, just east of Seventh Street. Once again, the intensity of play was impressive.

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This photo was taken in the Lower Blue Parking Lot in front of Horace Mann. This young man is flying!
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Except for the intense heat radiating off of the asphalt it was a wonderful event. Walking from game to game was effortless, and very exciting. I felt a great sense of community at the Gus Macker Tournament. The love of Basketball seemed to prevail. Whether rich, poor, male, female, black, white, old, young, it didn't seem to matter, everyone there appeared to be having a good time.

Psst.., The Emperor Is Wearing No Clothes.

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I'm cross posting this is article, which was originally posted on The11thHour.

It's too bad that President Bush couldn't take the Iraq war, which he started, as an opportunity to finish his years of military service. It seems only appropriate that the person who started the war, costing the lives of thousands of U.S. troops, and stealing the treasure from our nation's future generations, would offer to come clean for having deserted the U.S. military during the Vietnam war.

But we all know that's now how it works. His daddy's political connections kept him from ever facing danger during his years of service, kept him from being prosecuted as a deserter, made him his fortune, and eventually led to his presidency.

It's exceedingly ironic that this man, of all men, was embraced by those who claim to hold our national security as their highest responsibility, but when one's love of country gets in the way of greed, and the lust for power, we see what happens.

Here's an interesting link about some of our nation's soldiers, the one's we don't hear much about in the mainstream media. Bush never faced the punishment that these soldiers have for not wanting to fight in a war they didn't believe in.

Instead Bush finds himself applauded by the right wing as a great hero for saving the nation from terrorism. The nation is only one major terrorist attack away from understanding that this emperor is wearing no clothes.

2005 Gus Macker Tournament Day -1

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In the photo above, Gus Macker staff work in Friday's 100 degree heat while unloading equipment for the Gus Macker Basketball Tournament.

Preparations were underway Friday for Springfield's 2005 Gus Macker Tournament. The tournament will be held this weekend in downtown Springfield on Washington, and Jefferson Streets between Seventh, and Ninth Street,

Dozens of teams are expected to compete. I talked with Chris Kolb, director for Springfield's Gus Macker Tournament. Hundreds of basketball enthusiast, ages ten, and up will compete for trophies - and bragging rights in the annual competition which started as a neighborhood driveway competition back in 1974 in Lowell, Michigan.

Chris Kolb stated that this year tournaments will be held in eighty cities. Three tournaments will be held this weekend. Mr. Kolb stated that, Horace Mann, and Paul Wappel, communications director for Horace Mann, has played an important role in assisting the annual return of the Gus Macker tournament to Springfield.

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In the photo above spectator seating is unloaded, and awaiting placement. Chris Kolb, appearing in the photo below was busy preparing for this weekend's event. With the heat index over 100 degrees Friday, and similar temperatures expected this weekend, keeping cool is going to be important for staff, players, and spectators alike.

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Stacks of Shirts, and Driveway Quarterly Magazines, are waiting to be unbundled in the photo below.

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Thursday, July 21, 2005

I love Greek Revival

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The photo above employs an alleyway to frame Illinois' Old State Capitol Building.

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Ancient Greece? The photo above, taken on the north steps of Illinois' Old State Capitol Building is a good illustration of how Greek Design is used to project the virtues of strength, and beauty in a public space.

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In the foreground we see the Doric pillars of Illinois' Old State Capitol Building, with the
Corinthian colonnade of Illinois' oldest bank, Marine Bank, in the background.

A ColdPlay Milk

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I am struck by the almost desperate beauty of ColdPlay's music. Infused with sad meaning, that reaches into my heart. We are all together, yet separated by an ocean of alienation that can never fully be crossed. The existential voyage is made less unbearable by art, music, poety, literature, and love.

The image above was created under the influence of ColdPlay. Taking the mundane, and finding meaning, and beauty, that would be every poet's ambition.

Any guesses as to what this image was based upon, or where the original photo was taken? A hint is in the title.


Look at the stars,
Look how they shine for you,
And everything you do,
Yeah they were all yellow,

I came along
I wrote a song for you
And all the things you do
And it was called yellow

So then I took my turn
Oh all the things I've done
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
D'you know you know I love you so
You know I love you so

I swam across
I jumped across for you
Oh all the things you do
Cause you were all yellow

I drew a line
I drew a line for you
Oh what a thing to do
And it was all yellow

Your skin
Oh yeah your skin and bones
Turn into something beautiful
D'you know for you i bleed myself dry
For you i bleed myself dry

Its true look how they shine for you
look how they shine for you
look how they shine for you
look how they shine for you
look how they shine for you
look how they shine
look at the stars look how they shine for you

In My Place

In my place, in my place
Were lines that I couldn't change
I was lost, oh yeah

I was lost, I was lost
Crossed lines I shouldn't have crossed
I was lost, oh yeah

Yeah, how long must you wait for him?
Yeah, how long must you pay for him?
Yeah, how long must you wait for him?

I was scared, I was scared
Tired and underprepared
But I wait for you

If you go, if you go
Leaving me here on my own
Well I wait for you

Yeah, how long must you wait for him?
Yeah, how long must you pay for him?
Yeah, how long must you wait for him?

Please, please, please
Come on and sing to me
To me, me

Come on and sing it out, out, out
Come on and sing it now, now, now
Come on and sing it

In my place, in my place
Were lines that I couldn't change
I was lost, oh yeah
Oh yeah


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Photo: Steinberg-Baum

One could get the impression that the block southeast of the Ninth Street & South Grand intersection has always been "run down". A visit to that neighborhood today would reveal a large parking lot for ABF trucking. The entire southeast side of the block is a fenced field of weeds, and aging asphalt. The neighborhood has known better days. Back in the 1960's, and early 1970's what is now a vacant wasteland hosted a bustling retail center - The Steinberg-Baum Company Discount Store.

I remember as a young child shopping at Steiberg-Baum. It was a large store, with great prices - or so I was told. The store was always filled with shoppers. So whatever became of the store? I asked that question of my parents shortly after the store closed down. I was told that the owner's were "crooks", who hadn't paid their taxes, and several had "skipped the country" whatever that meant.

I ran a google search, not really believing I'd find anything, but there's no escaping Google. The following material (somewhat edited for readibility) was obtained from here:

Former Illinois Department of Revenue employee Sidney Flaxman CPA, and four former officials of the Steinberg-Baum Company were named in an eight-count indictment charging conspiracy and mail fraud. The indictment alleged that false retailers' occupation tax returns had been submitted to the State of Illinois. From January 1, 1968, through January 30, 1971, the returns submitted had understated sales by approximately $32 million, resulting in a loss of revenue to the State of Illinois of roughly $1.5 million.

There were thirteen retail stores, each of which was a separate corporation. According to Flaxman, when he first prepared a retailers' occupation tax return and showed it to Louis Steinberg, president of the companies and named in the indictment as a co-conspirator, Steinberg told him that he had not taken into account the wholesale sales. From a notebook, Steinberg gave Flaxman the amounts of wholesale sales which he, Steinberg, said should have been deducted.

The wholesale sales amounts furnished by Steinberg were fictitious and generally amounted to 90% Of the total sales.

There was evidence from General Manager Freedman that Steinberg-Baum's policy was to report only about 10% Of actual retail sales.

Also, by mailing the false tax returns to, "Retailers' Occupation Tax Division, 400 South Spring Street, springfield, Illinois 62706" they were guilty of mail fraud.

And now we know the rest of the story.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Beam Me Up Jimmy!

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It seems strange that Scotty has died.

Sure, I mean James Doohan the television, and movie, actor who died yesterday at age eighty five of complications due to

But Mr. Doohan will forever be, in my mind, and in the minds of millions of fans, the ever resourceful Scotty of the USS Enterprise.

As a small boy I remember watching Star Trek, and it seemed to me then that it was simply the best show on television.

The characters managed somehow to survive the most incredible adventures - filled with excitement, and danger.

Nearly every episode was action packed, and our heros managed somehow to pull it off - escaping death, and snatching victory from the jaws of defeat.

Now there was a crew that Captain Kirk could always depend upon.

Scotty, was the engineer, who somehow always managed to save the day - and just in the nick of time.

He was quite simply "the miracle worker".

The whole crew owed Mr. Scott their very lives.

He was a real hero, but despite his heroic accomplishments he quietly stood behind others who basked in the limelight - and he never complained.

Scotty would have appreciated Mr. Doohan's adventure on the beaches of Normandy where Jimmy Doohan was shot eight times.

Jimmy was a hero.

Like the crew of Star Trek, those who fought the Nazi's saved the planet.

Yet one more representative of the "Greatest Generation" has stepped out of our immediate reach.

My brother once met Mr. Doohan, and he was generous with his fame - always willing to share the moment. I never had the pleasure, but as a fan I'll always have my admiration for Mr. Doohan.

The photo of Scotty above seems in contrast to the photo below, of Jimmy Doohan. But it's not a stark contrast, for there's more similarities than meets the eye.

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Jimmy, you'll be missed, but not forgotten.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Hoogland Center for the Arts

The Hoogland Center for the Arts is an 80,000 square foot wonder to behold. A facility that brings an entirely new opportunity to Springfield, Illinois.

The building was originally built as a Scottish Rite Masonic Cathedral in 1909, and was expanded in 1960. The facility now plays host to dance, theater, musical performances, art exhibits, classes, workshops, and meetings.

Each of the building's four floors includes performance areas. This remarkable facility is truly one of Springfield's gems.

My visit was hosted by Jim Edwards, Curator of the H.D. Smith Gallery.

The gallery is cozy, yet spacious enough to include a variety of exhibits. Most pieces are available for purchase. The layout is contemporary, yet on a Springfield scale. Works are formally presented, yet Jim Edward's warmth, and professionality, make every moment a pleasure.

On display from July 8th, through August 27th is, "A Place for Everything: A Celebration of Diversity in Media and Subject Matter". Dozens of local artist, members of the Prarie Art Alliance, have works being presented in this display.

If you're downtown, or even thinking about going downtown, it's well worth a visit. You can even make a small donation, and possibly win, as a door prize, a piece of art on display!

In the photo below we see the Hoogland Center for the Arts located at 420 South Sixth Street.

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Jim Edwards stands in front of one of his works on display.

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Certainly one of the most beautiful spaces in Springfield is the Pam Reyhan Reception Area.

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A view from the stage of LRS Theater One.

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Chute & Ladder @ St. John's

For the last several months a chute, and "ladder" have been attached to the south face of the main building of St. John's Hospital in downtown Springfield. Construction on the top floors of St. John's has been taking place, and huge amounts of materials are being dropped down the black tube shaped chute, while construction materials are winched up the "ladder".

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As materials are dropped down the chute they gain velocity and make a very high pitched sound similar to a jet engine taking off. One can only hope that the rooms which have windows covered by the chute are being kept vacant. I'd have a heart attack just listening to all that racket!

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This last shot is of the gated area at the bottom of the chute, where a half dozen or so workers are busy hauling away refuse, and sending up more materials for workers above.

St. John's is an ugly building, it seems so monolithic, I tried to bring out some of it's orwellian stark beauty - employing various digital filters.

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Monday, July 18, 2005

Firefly Love

What summer would be complete without fireflys?
If you grew up in Central Illinois then probably remember the excitement you felt running into a darkend yard sparkling with fireflys. I remember running indoors to ask my mother for a bottle, or glass jar, to put our captured fireflys. My siblings, and the neighbor kids, would catch dozens of fireflys dropping each in the bottle.

Of course our parents would inform us that even if we poked holes in the bottlecaps that the fireflys wouldn't like being in a bottle, and would soon die. It never seemed to matter much, as children we simply didn't understand the incredible gift of life, or the finality of death.

Sometimes my parents would sneak into my bedroom after I fell asleep, and would liberate the fireflys, other times I guess they'd forget, and the next morning nearly all the fireflys would have already died. I never understood why they died even after we'd go through the trouble of putting grass in the bottle for them.

Sometimes one or two of the fireflys survived the night, and for them it was a miracle to be shaken out of the bottle onto a sidewalk where they would often meet their fate - being attacked by ants, run over by bicycles, or if extremely lucky to make it into the grass perhaps to shine on yet another night.

Needless to say I'd never tolerate that treatment towards such an incredible fellow traveler today. Life, and the beauty of the firefly is just too short to hasten even one moment.

The three photos below are of a firefly just after sunset. Some streets in Jerome aren't completely wiped out with artificial light, and scenes such as these are still possible.

The first photo shows the firefly (a little difficult to spot) to the left center.

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The firefly seemed to be very interested in my camera, which I had accidently left in the red eye reduction mode. In this mode the camera blinks a bright red LED in front of the camera just before flashing the strobe. The firefly must have believed it was courting a beautiful, if odd colored, firefly.

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After a few seconds, and after nearly flying into our Weber filled with hot coals, the firefly got the message, and gave up trying to mate with my camera. Here we see the last shot of the amorous firefly on its way to find love, hopefully, with another of its kind.

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Sunday, July 17, 2005

2005 Drought Over in Central Illinois?

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Jim Leach at Abelog poked fun at the drought which has effected most of the U.S. east of the Rockies this summer. I had taken a photo of my neighbor's lawn just before the remnants of Hurricane Dennis slogged its way inland last week. My neighbor just moved to Colorado, so I can criticize him all I want now. Get this, he cuts his lawn way too short!

I keep getting grief from my spouse, who suggest that there is something wrong with me, because I don't want to go out and cut the grass on the weekends, but in actuality I was preparing for the drought! That's right, I had been reading about the drought, and knew if I just laid back a bit, by not mowing as much I could possibly preserve the lawn until August.

Now it looks like with the rain that came in last week from Hurricane Dennis that I may actually have to mow - but not until next weekend. By then the nearly one hundred degree heat, predicted for this week, should have the lawn once again under control.

By this coming weekend I'll be forced to mow it, even if by doing so I'll essentially be sending the grass into dormancy for the rest of the year. Oh the weeds are going to have a field day!

Some folk out there are living in the pretend world that President Bush, and his Oilmen buddies live in. A world in which there are scientist (not on the oil & coal industry payroll) who are still debating the existence of, and effect of, greenhouse gases. This simply isn't the case. The scientific community is in agreement, climate change has already taken place.

The Midwest feeds not only this nation, but hundreds of millions of people around the world. Before we wreck the climate permanently, and some say we've already reached that point, we need to join the Kyoto Agreement, and put the brakes on the ever increasing amount of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere.

It's sad to see that the central part of this nation is now dependent upon precipitation from Hurricanes, which has historically been true of other nations with drought like climates.

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