The Test Cell: Worth Saving?

Recently I read a blog about some small building on the Edge of the IIT campus. That led to another blog, where Mr. Lifson champions the keeping of said building. And since the guy was worked up about the coming destruction of the site and it was close enough for me to go up there and see for myself, I did a tour.

First, here’s the picture of the approach to the building from the CTA Red Line:


Yes, it was cloudy.


Just so you know, this was the start of one of the most awe-inspiring views in Chicago once. Not “Awe-inspiring” as in “WOW,” but as in “My sphincter’s trying to re-enter my body” Awe-inspiring. Now, as you can see, there’s nothing but development for Black Yuppies…and enough space for a new station here.


And now, looking north along the service drive where the Test Cell is at. The squat, intentionally nondescript building with the white sign on the corner is the test cell:


Yeah, I know…big whoop.

But…look closer:


Okay, nothing major here. Other forms of laying bricks are placed elsewhere on campus. There’s supposed to be a departure for Meis, but the Stretcher Bond is so common that nobody need worry about missing it. Maybe there’s some interesting stuff inside, but unless there’s tours of the building nobody’s going to see it.

But…what about the greater view? After all, this is supposed to be an entrance onto the campus, according to the blogger. Okay…we’ll see about that:


The blogger says that the Test Cell, the wall alongside and the power plant make a good visual sight. No complaints from me, I did think it was nice-looking even when taking the pictures.


The car in the distance is now close. See the whitish post above the car?


Getting ready to make the 90 Degree Turn onto the campus…


There’s the white car in the above picture, so where’s our showcase building? Maybe behind the white box?


Maybe this building is what I’m looking for, to the left? Want to see the front, though…


Hello Beautiful! (pause a moment to get one’s breath back).

Of course, Mr. Lifson was trying to make it out like the the service drive was the preparation for something grand. And I understand the idea of entryways; I remember the two times I entered the Oak Park Unitarian Church (a funeral and a wake for a friend; so while the do-it-yourself tour was free I’m sure those who paid got a better, more enlightening tour without the leaden weights of mourning) and going down the entryway only to rise up into the sanctuary. Definitely a site worth seeing (and paying for), no matter your opinions on Mr. Wright.

But this does not cut it…at least not in relationship to Crown Hall. Maybe with the rest of the campus (which is ugly as hell if you ask me, but then I will say the guy worked with what he had;  had Mr. Meis had access to more steel and glass the campus would probably look much better…), but it was supposed to be Crown Hall which was to be looked upon. And while it’s not hard to FIND Crown Hall, I thought the idea was to be surprised with it upon turning right from the service drive onto the campus itself.

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Now for the whole…I can’t say the building is worth saving. Especially since we’re talking about adding a Metra Stop in the area. I seriously believe the benefit to the area would be worth the loss of the small, nondiscript building.


eMusic Adds On a Major Label, increases prices. Now What? (version 1.1, with edits)

(by the way, I’ve added on a post since, talking about first impressions of the new Emusic)

On June 3rd, 2009, I checked out eMusic to see if there was anything new that I might want to download and I’m met with a major announcement of a massive expansion of their selection and a severe increase in per download prices (same price, fewer downloads). Of course, I read many of the comment and after a few balanced comments there was the torrent of “OMIGOD, YOU JUST RUINED EMUSIC FOR ME FOREVER!” postings.

For a moment (before you read the tonnes of flamage), let me tell you my thoughts and opinions on this:

  • Don’t like the price increase on this (and I DON’T like that they hid the price increase as download decreases), but I can swallow it. A company needs to make money to continue (after all, we’re talking about something we can go without, unlike automobiles…). I must say I’m glad that the dig on me is not nearly as bad as it is for some.
  • Sony/BMG? Okay…the biggest of the majors, and the lamest of the majors. If you could have gotten WEA, I would have been much happier.
  • The company needed to handle this much better. A dictate from on-high, with an attempt to overload the senses doesn’t fool anyone; indeed much of the responses seem to be people goaded by the tactic.
  • I can see myself downloading some of the stuff in the Sony/BMG catalog. The Velvet Underground and the first 3 Chicago albums immediately come to mind, I’m sure there’s a few other offerings there that will be worth doing. After all, while I always tried to support indie labels, I have no problem buying and/or supporting a Major Label Artist.
  • Hope: That people will jump in for the Sony/BMG stuff and find themselves ordering more Independent stuff. Fear: That Sony/BMG stuff will crowd out the independents, causing eMusic to become what it once was the alternative to.
  • And finally: Will I Stay On? Maybe. I’ll want to try it out for a few months. Hopefully the addition of Sony/BMG doesn’t foreshadow a severe downhill drift in Emusic; but if it does it won’t be the first time I’ve stuck by something after its “sell by” date (and this time I’ll definitely be ready to jump off.

Anyway, that’s my take.

(My first impressions of the new Emusic)

The Sky Has Indeed Fallen…

Yes, the once greatest business in the world, longtime Fortune 1 Company (or Fortune 2 when Exxon/Mobil was a bit bloated for its own good), granter of prosperity to wherever its factories sat, builder of dreams (or their automotive analogs), the force behind suburbia, malls, the drive-in movie and expressways – bankrupt and getting reorganized into a smaller, “better,” more skinflinty company. Fewer cars (and brands) to sell, lower wages and benefits for workers (and, one hopes, for the C?Os who leach off the cream of the place) and a smaller chance at recovery.

Yes, Virginia, the sky has fallen.

Here’s what worries me: Now that we’ve seen GM cry “uncle,” are people going to buy the cars from the now-bankrupted company? As I’ve written about before, there’s a lot of hatred towards GM; what if with this bankruptcy and takeover by the government this hatred becomes solidified in a “Boycott Chevy” movement? Ford is still “solvent,” and while they may not be able to meet the ramped up demand that this boycott would meet, there’s a possibility that between Ford, The Japanese cars and the “Drive For 200,000 (not a bad idea, imho)” whatever demand that the reduced GM could have covered would be sopped up.

Meanwhile the remaining factory in Flint (Flint Powertrain) will close. From 80,000 to 0 in thirty years. Who would have thought…