The Mayor and Mr. Claypool: Chicago Citizens Suffer Under an Arrogant City Regime

THE MAYOR AND MR. CLAYPOOL: OUT OF TOUCH WITH CHICAGO’S CITIZEN MILLIONS

In the news what do we have? Here is just a brief list:

Citizens on a hunger strike for the support of the school they want in their neighborhood;
Among the worst (gun) violence in the nation;
Schools in disrepair;
Teachers upset and on strike and threatening strikes;
Pension funds a mess;
Roads and bridges in disrepair;
Homeless families and veterans;
Special needs people who are seeing cuts in funds for services……………………..

And what are our officials talking about? Here is just a sampling:

Property tax increases;
Garbage fees (we already pay for utility and garbage fees at many apartment complexes);
School property tax increases;
Congestion tax for people who drive in from the suburbs;
Taxes on sugary drinks such as sodas and fruit punches;
Cutting public school personnel and jeopardizing teachers and students;
Selling expensive parking lots and earning millions of $$ from those sales in downtown;
Closing schools and establishing charter schools that do not use union personnel;

***************************************************************************

What are our officials NOT talking about? Cutting their own perks and salaries and timing themselves on a time clock like many citizens do, and being accountable to the people who elect them instead of to the mayor who hand-picks many of those ‘trusted’ officials. These narcissistic people are so worried, so paranoid and obsessive-compulsive about giving up or sharing their power that they will do just about anything… but that is going to ruin not only their reputations but our city as well.

Who is going to want to have a business or a home in the city limits? Who will want to drive in and be sacked with a ‘congestion tax’? And by the way, some Chicago apartment managers charge for garbage collection and sewer services and a resident told me that doing so is illegal because the city already pays those companies so we are being charged twice for garbage collection. They head everything under the name of “utility fees”.

We certainly need people in our city department offices who are not accountable to the mayor, who are not hand-picked by the mayor, who have to answer to their employees and not their boss the mayor, and who must answer to a citizen’s board made up of people from all the neighborhoods and who have a bone to pick with the mayor and his arrogant ivory-tower inner circle.

No doubt they have their hands in every department and every office. I suspect that if you turned upside down and shook the boards of METRA, the RTA, Chicago Parks, the CTA, and the Streets & Sanitation, you would find some mayoral crony in the official circle. The Chicago City Council and the Chicago Public Schools already have that deep trouble, and they will push taxes through in a hurry without any consideration of the millions who will suffer.

We are in the grips of a high-money mayor who has his head in the clouds of big money and corporate favoritism and Washington politics. Yet he was booed out of a public meeting recently and there are many people who hope that happens at every public meeting he has until the problems we have are resolved completely to citizens’ satisfaction.

Those few tyrannizing over the many? Uh, folks, we need to get on the officials and in a hurry. We need to ask them what is going on, we need to ask to whom they are answering. If they say, “I answer to the mayor” then those who work for them have choices – they can strike, they can reply, “Oh, then if you cannot help me then why am I working for you?” They can leave the city and go elsewhere, to jobs where they will be appreciated and leave the officials hanging and wondering and having to search their own consciences and finally cooperate with their constituents.

Just look around – there are already people leaving for other cities and suburbs. There are plenty of ‘for sale’ and ‘for lease’ signs in downtown, and there are plenty of homeless and beggars and families suffering on our streets. There are vacant lots full of trash and there are abandoned buildings that attract drugs and crime and vermin. What is the mayor and his inner circle going to do – drive out so many people that only the rich will be left and those who are left will be ‘taxed to the max’ and then want to leave? What will Chicago be left with – no residents, no small businesses, and no workforce.

Get the officials to answer to you or band together and find ways to fire them for not doing their jobs. After all, if the average citizen did not do their job they would be severely reprimanded or fired or demoted, so considering that we let those officials keep their jobs and their money and perks and cushy seats, we should stay on top of them like our employers sandwich us in and hold them accountable for every little thing – yes, every pothole, every power outage, every flooded home, every rat and mouse in the alleys, every tax increase, every investigation that shows government waste, every closed school, every murder using a gun, every homeless veteran, and everything else we know can be corrected. We just have to do this ourselves.

If the officials are too prim and lazy to get out there then grass-roots efforts are the answer. We need to show them how it is done and organize cleanup days and go through this city from south to north and from east to west till we like the way it looks. Then we can work on deciding where our taxes should be spent and how they should be spent and who should control that money. We need to send the officials home for a few weeks, rather like a time-out for a fussy child, until they can cooperate and politely ask to come out of the corner and then assure us, their bosses, those who elected them (and what is the mayor but an elected official so where does he come off being so arrogant and stuck-up), that they can and will behave properly and do their jobs correctly and for the benefit of those who put them in office.

Meanwhile we have the:

Citizens on a hunger strike for the support of the school they want in their neighborhood and who are now going to rally for an elected school board;
Among the worst (gun) violence in the nation;
Schools in disrepair;
Teachers upset and on strike and threatening strikes;
Pension funds a mess;
Roads and bridges in disrepair;
Homeless families and veterans;
Special needs people who are seeing cuts in funds for services
Kids dying on our streets due to drugs and guns and gangs……………………….

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Advertisements

America on a New Route of Rude?:: Rude, Crude, and Inhumane!?

Hello Chicago and hello America!

What is going on with our attitudes? Sure it is admitted that no human being is perfect in any way – be it behaviorally, physically, morally or spiritually. But we sure need to at least try to improve our behaviors towards others and in the presence of others.

Now my view of behavior and the science of it is that our reactions towards others begin with how we view ourselves and our environment and how environmental factors of all kinds have affected us.

My goodness, what a spit of rude behavior I have seen and experienced lately! We tend to misjudge and sadly prejudge others before we know the facts or the circumstances of situations we see or hear about. The so – called “news” does not help our tendencies to be so fast and thus to act before we think – such as been a shortcoming of our “progressive” technological world. But it is still rude to do many things and to act before thinking. Acting means any kind outward manifestation of thought here – speaking, shouting, gesturing, traveling, etc.

Just some of the examples I have seen of how rude Americans can be include:

Reprimanding someone when the reprimander did not know the rest of the situation (happened in a grocery store and the nasty reprimanding person was way out of line and did not know the rest of the circumstances);
Interrupting someone when they are serving another customer;
Cutting another driver off on Interstate 88;
Wearing caps at the dining table (I have seen at least three guys – I will not call them gentlemen – do this in the past week);

Now there are situations I have not experience but have heard of that indicate just how rude and crude Americans are becoming, such as:

Abuse of others for any reason;
Teasing and making ethnic or other manner of jokes (some people do not consider funny what others consider as funny or “just having fun”);
Smoking within the entrance of a store or apartment complex where non-smokers have to walk;
Mistreatment of animals;
Stepping on the feet of others and not saying excuse me or I am sorry;
Pushing others into a subway car and shoving other passengers out of their way (arrogance, prideful and shameful behavior that has no consideration for the others on board);
Littering (even when a garbage can is within a few feet);
Not cleaning up after pets;
Stealing money from one’s company;
Interrupting in a senate or parliamentary procedure situation, and so many more!

I admit no one is immune to some eruptions of unusual or bad behavior but I am attempting to improve, and pledge so to do. If we all do that, pledge to improve our behavior towards others by a small percentage or by giving a few more seconds’ thought to a situation before we impose any kind of action on another person or on the situation, we will be better people and have a nicer nation.

Divi Logan. Chicago. 2015.

Veterans Need the Best We Can Offer: Chicago HAVE For All Military Personnel

Chicago Needs to HAVE Veterans In Our Hearts All the Time

There are many men and women who have served our nation in uniforms of the military branches of our great United States. They have enlisted and signed the papers, put on the faces and marched through the mud. They have seen international tours of duty and they have seen service right here at home.

Speak Up, America! Watch US Work.

Remembering America’s veterans.

Home… a word that does not ring with many of those proud people, since they do not have a home to go to. Yes, there are homeless veterans… HOMELESS… the very people who have given so much, who have sacrificed and labored and been through obstacle after obstacle, to protect the homes we go to every day, do not have a home of their own to step into.

That is disgraceful.

Yes the Veteran’s Administration (VA) system is seeing its share of dishonorable behavior and wasteful disgraces, but to think that a veteran or any military member is homeless is a major stain on our nation and a pustule on our society. These are people with medical problems due to their tours of duty, and that to which they have been exposed, such as gunfire, diseases, shelling, shell shock, PTSD, and loss of limbs. They have been sick for us, been maimed for us, and been tossed aside by us.

Something has to change, and such changes cannot wait for politics or elections. Those in office, those who command and lead and order around those veterans must step up, just like those folks did in lines of rank or to police an area of their base. They wanted things to look better, they wanted freedom, they wanted health and well being, and they were willing to sign on and give their lives and legs and hands and arms for those privileges.

Do we arrogantly stand by and wait for a new mayor or new senators or a new president to be elected before we bother to look at the endurances these proud people have made for the rest of our nation and around the world? They cannot wait for the influential, the rich, the government that hired and ordered them about, to step up.

Every veteran and their families should have a home and work that is fitting to their talents and needs. Every man and woman should have a house they can call their own, a space that suits them. If the vet has lost a limb, build them a home that will accommodate their special needs. If they are sick, give them the best care a reformed VA system can provide.

HAVE is an idea I thought of while listening to excerpts of Mayor Emanuel’s inauguration speech recently, and the acronym means Home All Veterans Everywhere.

After all, we have homes; we have spaces all our own we can go to after work and play and worship and trips to the grocery and the mechanic, so why don’t these veterans have a home?

It is going to take a lot more than dropping a buck or two in the shaking cup of a homeless vet crouched at the side of a street under a light post, or holding a sign as he strains to sit up in his wheelchair; it is going to take elbow grease action, grassroots efforts, caring and tender and loving people who deeply understand that these are their fellow citizens and neighbors.

Treat them with respect. They deserve it.

America's flag flies proudly.America's flag flies proudly.

Bless our veterans, love our veterans, take care of our veterans, home our veterans.

Divi Logan. Chicago, on this Memorial Day 2015.

Chicago Neighborhoods: Constructive, Corrosive, Communicative?

I. INTRODUCTION

Election Day in Chicago, and the candidates are out there. What are some of the topics on which they speak and on which they attempt to cater to the voters? There are the usual issues of taxes, TIFF’s, having an elected school board, transportation, the roads and bridges, and business. There is another issue that crops up in their ads: the neighborhoods.

It seems that the word “diversity” is a new concept to people of modern America, but it was not news to me when growing up in Nashville. There was not even a need to mention the word, as some kind of cajoling to get me to think of others who were different, to think of others in terms of some kind of census related terminology, or to see others for what I could get out of them for statistics, tax dollars, business funding, etc.

II. NASHVILLE NO – BOUNDARIES

The area of town I grew up in was about as low – crime as a part of a major city can be. There was no need to even think of anything dangerous happening. Police patrols were regular and it was good to see them, but they were just doing their jobs, that I knew. I just watched and went on with activities. Everyone kept their homes maintained and their yards neat, their lawns mowed, their mailboxes painted, and their noise levels down. There were no shootings, none of the “if it bleeds it leads” junk on the news networks that plagues us these days, and no talk of drugs around the area that would cause us to be on the watch for dealers/ pushers, and certainly no mention of gangs such as make parts of Chicago notable in the national scene for violence.

Not at all; our part of town was quiet, comfortable, and about as “diverse” as can be. I went to school with children who, thank goodness, did not all look like me or speak as I did, or dress as I did. They were interesting and different and my classmates and my teachers, pure and simple. We were there to learn, to play together, to interact on projects and to come and to go every week. We had no need for uniforms; we were there to do what students do – no metal detectors or security guards or metal bars needed, thank you. They might have been around but I had no need to take such heavy notice of them. I felt safe and that is what mattered to me and my parents.

The same applied to the churches I attended: it was a church, and everyone was welcome. Everyone sang, participated in Sunday School, baptisms, christenings, parties, etc. We came and went, one and all worshippers of the same God. The message was the same and we understood it.

People were people in my eyes and for my folks, who worked around the doctors and nurses and staffs of at least three major local hospitals as their careers progressed. They saw every patient, everyone who needed help, no matter who they were. I was fortunate to interact with the brilliant people who were friends of my parents, who came to our home and to whose homes we went. Compared to how people think today, my folks were ahead of the time in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and thank goodness I was not subjected to the terrible talk of what separates whom from whom and what this means to “the government statisticians” and the Census Bureau.

I traveled after high school for international vacations and the world broadened. Because I had not been so mentally restricted early in life, I had an open mind to these exotic cultures and languages, foods and attire and jewelry and histories that greeted me like the pages of an open book coming to life. I was not worried about it at all, the influence of these diverse and amazing cultures on my mind and spirit. Gone were thoughts of being separated by some imaginary line that ended at a certain street or city limit or ethnic boundary. Travel and the benefits that came with doing that made my world a better place. It was grand – the world became my neighborhood

It was marvelous.

Then I moved to Chicago…

III. CHICAGO: SIDES, DISTRICTS, and… NEIGHBORHOODS

Those candidates we will consider in this election today have spoken to and berated each other on their work with and in and their experiences with and funding of Chicago neighborhoods. They talk about how safe or unsafe “their neighborhoods” are; they talk about the closings of schools, the disrepair of roads, the lack of or the concentration of development for residences and businesses. They talk about diversity… not about unity.

We need a mayor who will break down those barriers and remove the roadblocks to progress, a friendly and open –  minded mayor and the aldermen who will work with him. As Shakespeare might put it, we need someone who will “dispel these inconveniences”, which is part of a speech from the play Henry V, when, towards the end, King Henry and Princess Katharine are listening to the Duke of Burgundy speak on restoring peace.

Our mayoral candidates might have a lot of money and influence and power when the cameras are around for campaign photo opps, but they seem to forget something, that Chicago is and always has been a diverse city, and always will be.

From its inception to right now, Chicago is made up of people who interact every day with others who do not look or talk or speak as they do, people who need help and who give help and who are glad to help in their lines of work, every day. These are the retailers, the first responders, the doctors and nurses and administrators, the airport ticket agents, the airline crews, the television studio camera operators, the bus drivers, and the furniture salespeople.

Diversity is nothing new, and we just need to leave off this census -oriented thinking and make progress. Interaction is easier when we just simply treat everyone with respect and courtesy. Represent yourself as a person, a special human being, an American citizen, plain and simple; represent yourself as someone who is one of those people out there to help and to work with everyone. Close down the prejudices, and bless yourself with the qualities of peace.

We just need to do that.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Civility in the Big City: Everybody’s Duty and Responsibility. Respect is Part of Living Around Others in the City

LIVING IN PEACE AND DISTURBING THE PEACE: LEARN HOW TO LIVE IN THE BIG CITY

I. THE TRANSITION MISSION

Coming from Nashville and an area where there were large lots and homes well built to block out a lot of noise, and homes set back from the street and off the main thoroughfares, I became accustomed to not only keeping the noise level down for the benefit of neighbors and family, but to not having a lot of noise from the outside to deal with. People in my family were pretty civil when it came to not making a lot of noise in the evenings and at night. Mostly the noises came from storms and the occasional flurry of travel activity in some early mornings, along with jet noise from the airport a few miles away. Being polite and respecting others was just a part of daily living as regarded making unnecessary noises.

II. LIFE IN THE BIG CITY STILL REQUIRES RESPECT FOR OTHERS

In the big city however, in a place like Chicago, activity is constant and people have different schedules. Still, that does not mean that you can make as much noise as you want and not think whether or not it is disturbing others. Most likely it is to some degree, even though no one complains directly. No one should have to come to you or go to the complex managers or law enforcement to quell disturbances of the peace or check upon the belief that there is suspicious activity going on. In doing things very late or on a pattern take care in this instance, for patterns of activity might be taken by some to indicate drug activity, as in getting drugs ready for drops at certain times and places. By making unnecessary or late noises or noises in the early part of the morning you might attract attention from the law or from apartment managers or angry tenants who might not take kindly to the noises you are making once it is found out that you or your guests are the source of the disturbances. It is just better to keep the noises down and not attract attention in the first place.

No one should have to tell you to lower the noises; you should take care not to make excessive noises especially when you live in an apartment or condominium complex. That means simply that others do live around you and that you should have a care not to be loud after regular working hours. Many older buildings do not have soundproofing as some newer complexes do, so sounds such as slamming doors, toilet seats falling hard, heels on tiled surfaces, kids running around on uncarpeted flooring, and dropping tools carry through walls and ceilings, even though the actual action is not directly above or below where the sounds end up being heard.

It is simply keeping with what it means to be a “good citizen”. Now good citizens have certain qualities, among these being trustworthiness, accountability, honesty, and community service, keeping up with current events, voting and the like. But the golden thread that binds the other facets together is RESPECT FOR OTHERS. This is so vital, so essential to living together in harmony and maintaining discipline and good society. Respect is so simple, more so than being bad or rowdy or upsetting or arrogant. Being civil and polite are so basic, and really are easy to do, as to smile is better than to frown. It makes you look better, look good, have a better outlook on life and on daily activities.

In major cities with tall buildings, sounds can also carry oddly from the outside. Storms sounded very strange when I first moved here; echoing thunder and wind seemed to come from every direction as the storms came in and would whip around structures. Sirens seem to come from one direction when in fact they come from another, and yelling comes from corners, with horns, stereos from cars, and the humming, roaring motors of trucks or vehicles that need mufflers. Some noises are to be expected where, as in Chicago, there is a mix of old and new structures, high rises, apartment buildings in various states of repair and material construction, and people who do not pay attention while driving. With so much activity you can expect first responders to be active on occasion, and you might hear some shouting or screaming or the occasional brawl. First responder activity is part of big city life…

In-complex noises are not part of big city life.

You can take steps to prevent excessive noise or noises late in the evenings after eight or ten PM when people are settling down after hard days at work. Think of what it would feel like for you if someone made noise that prevented you from settling in or eating a meal in quiet or going to bed and getting up timely so you could do a good job at the office. I doubt it if you would appreciate someone making noises or being inconsiderate and impolite. You might take steps to see who it was making the noises and ask them to stop.

But then the noises should not be happening in the first place, should they? Remember, folks, you aren’t in a detached house with a yard or separate driveways. You live around others so changes are in order so everyone can live in peace and happiness and more contentment. You can take basic steps, such as closing doors quietly (no slamming), taking out your trash in a timely manner, taking off heeled shoes when you must walk on tile or other hard surfaces, setting down tools and parcels carefully (after all, tools can break too and they are expensive many times to replace, and if they belong to others all the more reason to be careful with the possessions), not allowing things to drop (yes accidents do happen but you can exercise care and caution and go slowly and not lift a lot at one time in order to lessen the chance of dropping something), holding parties in party rooms or outside of the complex, and making sure your guests are quiet and do not talk loudly in hallways.

Guests must be respectful as residents are respectful; they need to adhere to the rules of the complex and not use areas where it is required that they be accompanied by a resident. They should hold to the rules many bars and restaurants post, asking patrons to keep the noise down and leave quietly so as not to disturb neighbors. Everyone should take more steps to be mindful of the rights of others to peace and quiet and relaxation. Big cities have enough stresses and stimuli without people making more noise than is needed.

Civility does count, and that applies to EVERYBODY. It applies to me and to you, to all who deem they are good citizens. Civility has a place in every society.

Divi Logan, Nashville and Chicago, 2015.

Chicago’s Best Music: How to Get Some Serious Beethoven

February 7, 2015.

CHICAGO’S BEST IS AT SYMPHONY CENTER: HOW TO GET BEETHOVEN AT HIS BEST

I. THE STARTING LINEUP

I did not think Beethoven’s 5th Symphony could sound any better, but it did tonight as the highest quality and most excellent symphony in the world took it on and flew with it. The opening movement is the most familiar but the CSO makes it sound that much better, even if you have heard it a hundred times. Right from the opening bars this team lit all the engines to full commence and had them running right out of the launch pad. Under superior direction this seamless group of musicians proved tireless, focused, and worked every golden thread in with a tapestry of execution.

Rather the whole about one hundred members and that dancing-about conductor took on the famous work with all the energy of the starting line of the Indy 500. The basses and indeed all sections of the orchestra took the motor and oiled it and rode with it round every movement and the eight basses with all strings up and running resonated in their own right as the starting row of a NASCAR race, a rumbling classical rolling thunder that spurred the other strings on to completion. The winds were fantastic, the brass outstanding, the percussion excellent.

Every note, every familiar section, every part of the orchestra went right for it and held everyone in the audience speechless and spellbound till the conductor signaled the end. WOW, what a stellar show!

Lower balcony seats are the best by far, with the best view and sound. We haven’t tried box seats yet but I hope someday to have that privilege. In any seats you are fortunate to have at Symphony Center, you are sure to enjoy a spectacular show, from the best team of experienced musicians in the world.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra… make them a part of your life.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Chicago Begins a New Year: Is it Time for Meditation rather than Mediation… or Both?

Good and Happy New Year greetings to everyone in America’s third largest city!

Hello to all who are right now at home watching football, eating dinner, getting ready for work, or sitting at their computers doing work.

Everyone, it is 2015, and it is time to begin thinking and acting differently – those resolutions we make should mean more than that on which they are written hastily. A resolution is a plan, something you make up your mind to do and for a reason.

You are obese so you resolve to exercise and lose weight. You did not finish high school so you resolve to get your education equivalent and then maybe get a job. Perhaps you just turned sixteen and want to learn to drive, so you make up your mind to enroll in drivers’ education.

Maybe we can all add something important to our list of plans, the art of meditation. Now it is known that meditation is useful for calming our minds and bodies, reducing stress and sickness and bringing inner peace. It is an extension of the space we need to think, but we do not need to go into our rooms and light a candle or incense to practice meditation.

We can meditate – think on our actions – quickly and effectively, but we need to have calm minds in order to do that. We must stop thinking and acting harshly and rashly towards others – that must be an immediate resolution, for everyone deserves respect. We can think before we act, an essential element of getting along in society.

It is time to take the fine art of personal responsibility seriously, no doubt about it. We must learn to stand back, to consider everything carefully and closely and then act. It is simply the will to or the will not to do something or say something.

We in Chicago have grand and brilliant ideas, we have plans and resolutions, hopes and dreams and at every level in every social strata and on every scale.

Let us work well together, let us show love and compassion, and let us be the best we can be every day.

How will you make a difference in 2015?

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

Holidays Bring Time for Reflection and Balance: Rooting the Self in What is Essential

HOLIDAYS HAVE SPECIAL MEANING FOR EVERYONE

These are the holidays… again… and as usual it seems, these holidays started two months ago… almost three, for from the end of October and the bare cessation of Halloween, holiday decorations and talk of Thanksgiving and Christmas pounced upon us like a dog out of chemical balance that hadn’t had its fill of Porterhouse steaks yet.

Stores began to fill up with decorations and signs advertising sales and deals. Mercantilism took a firm hold on the visual, the audible, the spiritual and the emotional. Spangled signals of those overblown holiday wants and wishes were stuck in our faces and until these same holidays are over we will not be rid of them. Spangled signals… tinsel, shiny cash registers, bows, glitter, wrapping paper in gold and red foil, electric lights by the strand and by the net, festivals and parades full of floats, fake snow, cartoon characters and corporate sponsorship lighting up the avenues and boulevards as though spending money was going out fashion.

Somehow something seems lost in the mix and muddle and hurry of the holiday season, something that has been broken from our senses in some sort of way. Some folks get the meaning and some manifest that in ways that others cannot understand.

For everyone, “the holidays” have all kinds of meanings. To one, it means that breakout and roll – out of corporate bling and gleam; for another it is the spiritual where one must be in a church or before a Nativity scene; and to another it means standing with family and friends watching the parades and attending galas and really cool parties stocked with good food and gifts. For adults it means one set of things; for children it means other sets of things – attitudes that some understand culturally while others only watch and think what certain rituals mean.

Holidays are times of symbolism for everyone, for those who believe in deities and those who do not. But they are special times for degrees of reflection and all manner of such and of beliefs and rites must be respected, for in America it is a right of everyone to celebrate as they desire, and to express themselves as they wish. Naturally freedoms and rights come with a price, and that price is personal responsibility.

Our Constitution guarantees every American citizen certain inalienable rights and privileges, such as the freedoms to worship as we desire (or not to), of speech and to assemble peaceably. We can pursue life, liberty, and happiness – really comes to a head during “the holidays”, doesn’t it?

The mercantile aspect, well, that is something it appears we will deal with each in our own way. Holidays are really meant to be sacred occasions, and have been for centuries celebrated without the need for millions of dollars spent on advertising and gaudy decorations to attract attention and bring people in to purchase stuff that will get broken, returned, or discarded or otherwise rid of by recipients. There goes to waste the wrapping paper and gift bags and the time and attention paid to getting those gifts looking “just right” and all pretty for putting under the tree and in the stockings. A lot of energy is wasted here in so many ways in some eyes, but in some aspects it is not really a waste.

For in this season of winter, there is need for something to remove the heaviness of the grayness this time of year brings. When there is less natural light and more clouds to fog up our views and visions, we act differently, we sense and feel differently and we do not act as our “normal selves”, being at times moody and taken in by disorders related to holidays and winters. Seasonal Affected Disorder is real and it hurts many during this time in so many ways. For many the solution to conquer the holiday blues is to get into the “spirit of the season”. Even this phrase has many meanings.

Some folks bring out the lights and decorate from foundation to roof their homes and shops. Others go to the store and stock up on food to cook for large parties (cooking can be very grounding and therapeutic and settling and is a social activity to be shared). Others just “go for it” and raid the stores after just the special gifts for those on their lists. They will spend hours and wear themselves out in that search… and then after that they need the food waiting for them at home, victuals that someone spent hours preparing.

In the end what matters? Is it the sales, the deals, the specials and the material things? Is it the lights, the paper, the bows and the bags, the stockings and trees and ornaments of fragile glass? Is it the decorating and the big dinners?

Be grateful and joyful in all these things, and I think you will understand what matters in the end.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.

The Chicago Symphony Orchestra: The Best Shine for the Classics

WHEN YOU HAVE THE BEST, GO SEE THEM PLAY!

Yesterday’s performance at Symphony Center was stellar in its nature and character and its cast: the greatest and grandest orchestra in the world, our very own Chicago Symphony.

The performance began with Haydn’s Symphony Number 93 in D Major, holding everyone rapt from the opening notes. Certainly every section of the orchestra had the opportunity to shine, and here in the piece’s four brilliant movements, as in every piece that followed, the woodwinds and brass gave out a “megawatt” show. Maestro Honeck gratefully acknowledged the soloists and others who gave out efforts that caused the mind to soar and the soul to lose every ounce of stress and open up to what can happen when years of practice and hard work and diligence come together for this performance.

Next came Strauss’s Don Juan, which in only a few minutes had the power to engender in the classical imagination visions of a man of adventure and excitement, of love and loss, of struggle and of dying… but still making a last effort to survive in a chaotic and confusing world. Even were one not to know the stories of Don Juan, this marvelously structured piece had the most incredible way of bringing up in the heart, soul and spirit the rounds we face daily whether at work or at home or traveling or at play. We have our star – like brass moments, our high flight woodwind moments, our beating times of kettle drums and the ringing of percussion and timpani summoning us to higher and greater achievements.

At the end of this piece as he had with the first and would with the last, the conductor singled out the horn section, the principal flute first followed by others of the winds, and the principal members of the string section, each one humbled to be given this honor in the presence of an appreciative audience resounding with (a few whistles and occasional cries of “Bravo”!). Most though let applause stand for the vehicle of showing their admiration.

After intermission, when all patrons were seated and the orchestra finished its tuning, and Maestro Honeck mounted the podium, our superior CSO launched into the stirring notes of Beethoven’s Symphony Number 7 in A Major, Opus 92.

The maestro put me at times in mind of a major – league pitcher winding up and sending a high – speed ball straight towards a franchise batter, or at other times a sporty performance manager encouraging and directing his team towards higher and grander musical discussions. Even at other times the maestro seemed to dance across that small square of dais, hopping around and gesturing and lifting his baton as though about to imitate the best batter in all of baseball in hitting a homer out of the ballpark. Soaring on and up as though they were one single towering home run, the dozens of fabulous musicians in their uniforms of black, the members of our orchestra returned those fastballs in a “right back at you” way that held everyone in suspense and thrill and some on the edges of their seats, waiting for each volley and play, each call and response. Onward the brass section mounted, the woodwinds and the basses measuring them at every step, and the rest of the strings held valiantly with the basses, keeping things moving until the last notes of the fourth movement had settled upwards into the high ceiling of the auditorium.

Four curtain calls later, my companion and I exited through the doors of the lower balcony, listening to patrons describe this show as a powerhouse, as the best, and at other times letting reverent silence and expressions mirroring the privilege and honor of being in the presence of the best musicians in the world. Any time you are able, purchase a ticket and go see a performance.

Beethoven’s 7th Symphony- a magical, inspiring work to be enjoyed by every person in every age group and all over the world. Let this wondrous work fill you with the majesty of classical music today.

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2015.

School and Students:: How to Be and Remain a Good Student

Are you a good student? Do you want to be a good or a better student? Here is an article about how to accomplish that goal… or some good pointers at least.

1. The Phrase “dress for success” Really Does Have Meaning… and here is how it does.

What influences the manner in which you dress, in which you get ready for each day in choosing what to wear? Naturally the seasons of the year have bearing on what you wear; if it is warm you might wear shorts, lighter -colored socks and pants, and light -material and lighter -colored shirts and blouses. If the conditions are cold, you go for thicker socks, heavier pants, and coats, mittens, and thick hats and earmuffs.

What else has to do with what you wear? One factor is what you have that is clean and pressed. If you need to do laundry then do it; if the codes of your school require that your clothes are properly pressed and your shoes polished then do that or have someone teach you how to iron and how to keep your shoes clean and neat. Clothing also must be appropriate for the situations you are going into. Many schools have dress codes and uniforms, and it is suggested that no fuss is made when you encounter those rules. Rules are made for a reason and should be followed. If you are not sure of something, please ask a trusted teacher or other authority figure and listen to them carefully.

If your school does not have a dress code and what to wear is under your discretion, play it safe. If you put something on and you have ANY doubts at all about how you look in it or whether or not the clothes will cause trouble or attract undesirable attention or makes you look funny, then take it off and save it for the weekend or the beach or vacation. Refuse to follow trends if they do not make you feel comfortable; after all you are the one who for hours a day will wear that shirt, those pants or shorts, those shoes and socks and belts and jewels. Opt for simple clothes without a lot of graphics or loud colors that will definitely attract attention and distract you from your studies or will distract others from their studies.

Remember that there are other people around; the school is not just you alone.

2. Be Respectful and Punctual as Possible

Respect is not only a manner of behavior, it is essentially a duty of every citizen one towards the other. To “respect” simply means to look at again. You can certainly respect yourself in a healthy way and thus you are able to respect others as easily as you breathe and walk and eat. In any public setting, respect of others is just essential and vital to remember, simple as that. How do you respect others, or how can you learn the ways to do that?

One way is to wait your turn to speak, especially if those who are talking are older than you. It is just proper to respect your elders, including teachers, professors, and all school personnel, no matter what position they hold. They are your elders and experienced in what they do, and can provide you with direction and knowledge, so listen carefully to what they say.

Never shout down a hallway or on a street corner or in a quiet room or library or other places where people are reading and studying. Shouting and screaming in public is a vulgar habit and is not necessary. If you cannot reach someone right away, you can call them or text them or send electronic mail any time. If you contact someone electronically, remember to use the rules of proper electronic etiquette. There are plenty of resources that teach those habits.

Endeavor to be as on time as possible. Get up earlier for the bus if you have to, so you have time to dress, have breakfast and not rush through it, gather your supplies and head off to school. Do not keep the bus driver waiting, and do not keep the class waiting. Being on time is a life skill that you will always have and need to work on, no matter if you are going to school, going on a vacation, going out to dinner, or meeting someone. Punctuality is a good quality.

3. When You Have a Problem, Ask Questions.

Every once in a while we run into situations we do not understand, something about which we need clarification. At that point we need help… we need to ask questions. We need to gain understanding and problem solving.  This is where teachers and other trusted people enter the picture. These are folks who have the experience you need to get to the root of the problem and find out the answers. If there is a problem with the mathematics homework, ask your parents, or get onto a homework hotline, or ask your professor. Do not be afraid to ask for help; that is what these people are there to help with, solving problems. Be patient and learn the steps that will help in the future when you encounter other odd situations. Problem -solving is a life skill as well; you will need to learn to do this as you go through school, no matter what subjects you study. You will problem -solve in the workplace as well, so learn that skill and polish it every chance you have. Helping others to solve problems or get through concerns is a fine way to polish your own skills and such leadership is desirable. When you teach others you should get a good feeling and want to do more teaching.

4. Branch Out: Grow Out of Your Neighborhood and Into the Global Setting

Many people think that sticking to being in “the neighborhood” is a good thing. It is to a point, that point being that once you have seen everything, know everyone, know the habits and sights and sounds, you are probably ready to go to other places and see new things.

Branching out is a good thing and a vital element of growing up. Being social is just a part of what we do; it is why we are a “society”. You have to have the courage to say, “There are others out there who are different, and I want to get to know them. Sure others say to stick with people who look like me or talk like I do… but no one does that.”

Which is why you must take the lead and talk to others at your school. Is there someone who does not make friends easily? Talk with them. Is there someone who seems alone? Talk with them. Invite them to your lunch table or to sit outside on the school grounds and have a bag lunch out there and just talk about things. You will feel good, someone else will feel better, and both of you might become fast friends for life. Everyone is unique and individual and special, and because of that we must respect everyone.

You are the one who must take the first step away from the streets you find familiar, to reach towards that part of town you have not explored before but have heard about. Go there and look around, ask about what interests you and learn from the people in that area.

And when you have the chance, travel. When I had the chance for international travel I took the opportunity. Because I had the courage, the world was as an open book, but instead of looking at someone else’s photos, the pictures became living and colorful and alive and vibrant. In China there were people doing Tai Chi in the morning. In Japan there were people exercising and walking about and doing business. In Europe people went about their daily lives, playing and working and maintaining the home life. Some were there to take care of the tourists, and thanks to them my times in these areas was made pleasant and comfortable. Travel is essential in the growth process, even if it is just to another part of your city, and favorably if to another part of America and the world.

5. Growing Up, Have Fun!

No matter what you do, be your real self, learn what that means, and have fun exploring what that means. When you are sitting at the desk at home, burning the studying oil after dinner or late into the night to get that term paper ready, you are preparing for a lifetime of work and fun. You are the one who will grow out, make the changes, and learn to help others while helping yourself as well.

Enjoy your life!

Downtown Chicago

Photos taken with a Leica V -LUX -4 “bridge” style camera.

Communication is the Answer

Divi Logan, Chicago, 2014.