Street Smart Chicago

Soul Searching: Legend Tripping in the Ghost Culture of Chicago

Elmhurst, Essays & Commentary, Holidays, Naperville No Comments »

Photo: Gil Castellanos

By Eric Lutz

I don’t believe in ghosts.

But, if I did, it would be because of a weekend trip to Galena I took a few years back, when about ten seconds of “The Lovecats” by The Cure emanated from a closed laptop in the middle of the night.

I was pretty freaked out at the time, certain we’d been visited by some hipster ghost with a penchant for eighties post-punk, and wound up driving around all night until day broke.

Nowadays, I’m inclined to think the only thing scary about that night was my carbon footprint.

Maybe it’s strong to say I don’t believe. More accurately, I just don’t think about it very much. Read the rest of this entry »

Plush Job: Pock-it Palz are the stuff teen dreams are made of

Elmhurst, Holidays No Comments »

While plush toys are traditionally thought of as children’s playthings, the bizarre stuffed monsters of Luisa Castellanos’ handmade designer toy line, Pock-it Palz, make quirky gifts for lighthearted people of all ages.

Castellanos is a remarkable entrepreneur not only for the high quality and inventiveness of her products, but for her young age. A senior at York High School in Elmhurst, Castellanos is 17 now, and has been making Pock-it Palz since she was 11.

At first all of Castellanos’ creations were made via hand-stitching, but the fabric toy maven has since moved on to plying her great-grandmother’s sewing machine in the basement workshop of her suburban home.

Castellanos says she learned to sew in Girl Scouts and picked up some more tips from her grandmother. Her inspiration for Pock-it Palz, however, came out of a treasured childhood pastime. “When I was a kid,” she explains, “I would doodle weird little creatures. And I decided it was a different way to express my art, with sewing monsters and making them three-dimensional.” Read the rest of this entry »

No Stone Soup? You might break your teeth if you eat at this museum

Elmhurst, Museums No Comments »

Sure, you can get a meal at the Lizzadro Museum of Lapidary Art in Elmhurst. The menu includes everything from light snacks to traditional sit-down meals, though nothing is edible.

Among the large collections of ivory cameos and elaborate Chinese jade carvings that comprise the museum is one peculiar display: rocks shaped like food. The late lapidary enthusiast Sylvia Josefeck’s collection of various rocks and minerals cut and polished to resemble a day’s worth of meals, the “Rock Café,” offers visitors of all stripes something of a novelty in light of the more traditional stone pieces.

The “Paul Bunyan breakfast” feaures two generous slabs of bacon made from marble onyx, sunny-side-up eggs from marble, and grits (with butter, of course) from aragonite. Next on the menu is a midday snack consisting of feldspar cheese and seed-pod chocolate cookies, along with a very appetizing Mexican onyx fruit salad. And then there’s dinner. The most elaborate meal of the group includes meat carved from petrified wood, jasper spinach soufflé and Petoskey stone mushrooms. To top it all off, there are even sides of black onyx caviar with quartzite crackers and jello cubes of Illinois flourite. Read the rest of this entry »