Monthly Archives: July 2015

Chicago Recycling Coalition Event July 27: The State of Recycling in Chicago

CRCeventWhen the Chicago Recycling Coalition began, the city had no recycling and put its trash in local incinerators and landfills. Over the years, CRC has fought to provide Chicagoans more sustainable waste management and reclamation solutions. That fight continues, and it can be fueled with beer.

To celebrate its 25th anniversary, the Chicago Recycling Coalition is holding an event at Revolution Brewpub (2323 N. Milwaukee Avenue) Monday July 27 6-9pm.  Have a beer and talk with CRC board members and guests about what’s improved in Chicago recycling, what CRC is fighting to improve, and what Chicagoans can do to get better recycling, yard waste, and composting services from the city in apartments, homes, schools, and workplaces.

A lot is going on in Chicago regarding waste, and not all of it is good. Come to discuss Blue Cart, the plastic bag ban, the Burke-Hansen ordinance “requiring” multi-unit dwellings to offer residents recycling services, and much more.

Featured speakers include:
Claire Micklin, who co-developed the eye-opening My Building Doesn’t Recycle! app revealing how many big residential buildings don’t offer recycling pickup)
Chris Bentley, WBEZ Curious City Reporter (who will elaborate on his recent stories investigating Chicago’s Blue Cart program and the Burke-Hansen ordinance)
Meredith C. McDermott, Chicago Public Schools Sustainability Manager (hear what’s going on with recycling in CPS)

Purchase tickets here.
$25 per person includes open bar and light hors d’oeuvres from 6:00 – 8:00 PM
$50 VIP tickets include all of the above PLUS a pre-event brewery tour at 5:30 PM

See the CRC’s website for more information, or follow the CRC on Facebook. (I’m on the CRC’s board of directors and am happy to answer questions about the event.)

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The Hammer of the Gods

Michael Dahlquist, shirtless and hammering away at his drums.

Michael Dahlquist, shirtless and hammering away at his drums.

Ten years ago today, I was ten days into a teaching post at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. I had just shaken off the jet lag that comes from moving to a time zone 16 hours ahead and had gotten into the routine of checking messages from the States and watching the national news over breakfast before heading into the office.

The past week had already been rough with news of the London terrorist attacks, and this day started with more bad news. My in-box had several messages, all of which went like this:

“Apparently Silkworm’s Michael Dahlquist and two other guys were killed when some psycho woman rammed their car from behind.”

Michael Dahlquist was 39; his friends and coworkers were Doug Meis (29) and John Glick (35). He had been Silkworm’s drummer for 15 years. Silkworm was a rare band, at the same time deeply accomplished (Andy Cohen was and is one of the most effectively virtuosic guitarists alive, and former member Joel Phelps is my candidate for most talented musician of the past 30 years) and down to earth. After a period of heavy touring, each of the three remaining members after Joel’s departure settled in Chicago, where Andy had decided to attend the University of Chicago’s law school. All fit recording and touring into their jobs and routines; Michael, John, and Doug were on their lunch break from Shure in Skokie when they were killed.

Before their deaths, it seemed Silkworm’s work-music balance and dedication would carry the band long into the future. That was taken away ten years ago. As was a delightful person. I didn’t know Michael well (I’d moved from Chicago to Pittsburgh years before he relocated from Seattle), but I looked forward to seeing Silkworm come to Pittsburgh and when I did see him, he always seemed interested in whichever person he was speaking with. He was also hilarious, evidenced by the tour journal he kept between 1997 and 2005. That journal gives a little evidence to the sweat he’d work up as he hit his drums as hard as anyone I have ever witnessed. Michael regularly taped his sticks into gardening gloves to play.

Michael’s death ended Silkworm. Tim and Andy regrouped into the quartet Bottomless Pit (see this post for an appreciation of that band) and provided beautiful tributes to Michael on their first album Hammer of the Gods (itself a name used to describe a similarly hard-hitting drummer who died too young). Steve Albini wrote a moving obituary for Michael in the Chicago Reader (link opens pdf).

In the years since, a lovely documentary gave visual and audio evidence of what Michael was like. The Silkworm website became an archive and discussants their migrated to the forum associated with Albini’s Electrical Audio studio. There, conversations morphed into a terrific Silkworm tribute album An Idiot To Not Appreciate Your Time which captured the spirit of the band through the lens of 29 fans and friends. That spirit also lives on in the PRF BBQ festivals held in Chicago and everywhere from San Francisco to New York to my onetime stomping grounds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Jon Solomon reminded me of the anniversary with his open letter to Michael today. I saw Jon last month at the annual Chicago BBQ, and his letter reflects my feelings about that event, and how what has been built relates to Michael’s example and why we miss Michael ten years later.

But this post wouldn’t be right without giving Michael the last word. At one point, a few years after Silkworm’s Lifestyle album came out, he took it upon himself to make a video of one of its songs. Most videos are lip-synched to a studio recording. Not this one. Michael performed his own a cappella version of Andy’s song, starring and editing in the video just because he felt like it. Click the link and enjoy “Treat the New Guy Right.”

Chicago Waste, Recycling, and Sustainability Tour Saturday, July 18.

Putting on my hat as board member of the Chicago Recycling Coalition, I want to alert those in the Chicago area about a terrific, exciting, and educational tour the CRC and Southeast Environmental Task Force have put together for Saturday, July 18.
Recycling and Waste Flyer 6-18-15
To sign up for the tour, visit the Southeast Environmental Task Force website or call (773) 646-0436.