Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
I'm in Boston at the moment, arriving yesterday. It was freezing here last night walking around the cities famous Faneuil Hall
, but rather disturbingly less cold according to breakfast TV than Chicago, where I head back to later this afternoon.
Tomorrow I may decide to give sat on the couch like a dementive depressive a miss and actually go out to find a Saturday morning world outside of my own little one. Builders continue to work in our house, and that appears to be the excuse that I need.Scott Sinclair signed
as expected, with the club clearly waiting for enough time to evolve so the youngster's loan period can include the play-off finals. Ooh even typing that gives me the goolies.
Sinclair I would expect will start tomorrow as Pardew aims for an entry in the record books by playing 5 wingers although I actually wonder if he goes without most of them and plays Sinclair behind a lone forward, with four in midfield to include Semedo, in a kind of 4-1-3-1-1 formation. On the basis that he should drop Halford after his verbal assassination of him last week then Moo2kil and Youga would then provide the width with Sodje hopefully back in the team alongside Paddy.
Anyway, if you need me I will be either shopping, sipping coffee or walking the dog that I haven't got. I might take my phone though just in case! Come on you reds.
Paradise Island, Bahamas
has 700 islands and a further 2,400 sandy cays but most visitors only tend to visit a few with New Providence and Grand Bahama being the most popular. North Bimini island, just 50 miles east of Miami is a popular family and spring break destination for Americans and divers go to the eastern part of Andros
, which has the second largest barrier reef in the Northern Hemisphere and the third largest in the world at one hundred and forty miles long, and has a drop off of over 6,000ft.
172,000 Bahamians live on New Providence Island, two thirds of the countries whole population. Nassau is the capital and traces it's beginnings back to the legendary days of pirates and shipwrecking. It has preserved some of it's 400 year history but Nassau and it's neighbourly tourist heaven Paradise Island is now home to large resort hotels, large investment houses and Americanization.
The American influence is a recent thing. First of all it was the Prohibition that turned the Bahamas into one big smugglers cove. After that was repealed in 1933, GI's during WWII came for a bit of rest, relaxation and rum and then the arrival of the jet-age brought wealthy families looking for a new holiday destination, particularly as Cuba was closed to our American cousins.
The final colonisation of Nassau has taken place more recently with the appearance of Starbucks, Burger King et al on each street corner.
The original inhabitants were Lucayans
, a tribe of the Arawak Indians, who arrived i
n the 9th century. They lived off the sea harvesting conch, still a popular local dish today. Columbus' first landfall in the Americas was on San Salvador, south and east of Nassau, on October 12, 1492. The Spanish enslaved the Lucayans, but got bored and left, whilst the native Indians fled.
The next era of history was one for the romantics amongst us. Separating the tall stories from the truth during the pirate era
is tricky. The legend Blackbeard certainly ruled the waves, the self appointed 'governor of Nassau' struck fear in everyone he came across, setting light to his own beard to frighten other ships.
Pirates, government backed privateers and wreckers swarmed the Bahamian islands for a century from the 16-1700's fighting over treasures left by Spanish galleons and luring other ships headed to the new world, to the reefs so they could plunder their cargos.
Even under British rule, and despite the signing of the Treaty of Utrecht, which outlawed pirates, Blackbeard, Calico Jack and others continued to wreak havoc plundering ships of all nations making Nassau into a burghal of criminals, prostitutes, hobo's and vagrants.
With the help of the countries first Royal Governor, Woodes Rogers
, Britain eventually flushed away the baddies and restored some order, created some laws and built Fort Nassau. However with the pirates went the island's main source of income and the country, now occupied by English Loyalists and former slaves from the United States, muddled along pretty poverty stricken until the American's rediscovered it.
We stayed like many others on the 685 acres of Paradise Island
, connected to Nassau by two high bridges. Originally called Hogg Island, a rich American aristocrat with the wonderful name of Huntingdon Hartford
purchased the island and started to develop it in the 1960's. Donald Trump later bought it, but its now the property of South African hotel and casino magnet Sol Kerzner
Paradise Island has very few permanent residents just thousands and thousands of holiday makers staying in one of the hotels on the island, the largest being the monolithic Atlantis
, looking like an underwater space station sunk into the sand.
We stayed in The Cove
at the Atlantis, the most recent addition to this über resort. The Cove is meant to be more contemporary than the other towers, and the lobby areas and bars are indeed designed in a minimalist style. Warning: the whole Atlantis complex is massive, so be prepared to do some walking, which is not on the face of it ideal for kids, even though it is families the resort tries to attract with it's kids club, water rides, aquarium and cinema etc.
In fact I lay there one day by the pool thinking that the Atlantis has something for everyone. Kids, teenagers, families, oldies, couples, groups and businessmen are all catered for and this is great but I couldn't help think that the hotel didn't know what it really wanted to be. Some more gripes, everything is expensive, but don't worry the resort adds 15% gratuity for your convenience to everything to save you the bother, but it bothered me as I thought the service was best described as inferior. Not that the people that worked in the hotel (6,000 in total) were necessarily unfriendly, it's just that everything seemed a bit of an effort and cost and effort to me should reflect each other. I wonder if the $25,000 a night Bridge Suite
(above as the name suggests) with it's 10 rooms gets any better service?
The Cove did have it's own adult only pool, which was nice although I don't know what the 50-somethings felt about the constant house music being pumped out of the speakers. Vegas it is not, alth
ough add some Dubai seasoning and it seemed to be the flavour the resort was trying to achieve.
The weather this time of year was just right, although it did rain the first day, but it was just the few days respite that was needed for me after a month of flying around like a saucer. It was a leisurely break although we did float around the casino one night but spent a total of $1.25, one afternoon I sneaked a massage, and another thing we did was Dolphin Cay.Dolphin Cay
is one of the largest dolphin habitats in the world. 14 acres of deep and shallow filtered waters where 26 bottlenose dolphins live and play very happily (the life expectancy of a human cared for dolphin is 3 times that of one that lives in the wilds). 16 of the 26 were rescued from Hurricane Katrina in a heart warming story
. Two of the saved mothers have since given birth to newborn calves
For $200 you get the chance to swim and play with the dolphins. For an hour of your time you're being acquainted and orientated, but you do spend about 45 minutes with the beautiful smiley creatures. It was a great, if costly experience, although a chunk of the money does go to a not-for-profit marine foundation.
The Aquadventure water rides are fun and who could turn down the chance to fly down a 60ft drop into a pool full of sharks
? There is a rather scary reconstructed archaeological underwater maze called The Di
g and lagoons teeming with sharks, stingrays and piranhas. Or you could just lay in an inflatable ring and mosey down a lazy river which ran around the whole resort
The beach is very nicely kept and is private for residents, although areas such as the casino and restaurants are opened up to others. We ate in Mesa Grill
(left) and Nobu
in the colourful Marina Village, which was probably our favourite. Again, other than going into Nassau or buying snacks to eat in your room, you will spend a lot of money feeding yourselves at The Atlantis. In fact you may get more for your money and more protein out of the local cocktail specialties such as Bahama Mama, Pina Colada and Goombay Spash. The local beer, Kalik was decent too.
Nassau, from what we saw of it, didn't look too appealing. If we'd been there longer we would have taken some time to visit the Pirates of Nassau museum
and Fort Charlotte
, which commands an impressive view over Paradise Island.
For old Nassau, the island's most visited attraction is the Queen's Staircase
. 65 steps that were carved out of solid limestone by slaves in the late 18th century or see the flamingo-pink government buildings in Parliament Square, which we did get a peek at.Plato
recounted that Atlantis was a fortress island in the Atlantic Ocean that within concentric rings of water and land Atlanteans lived a life of harmony and abundance for many years until it was lost to the sea. Well the mythical lost continent has returned, sat impressively back on a sandy Paradise Island. Greek philosophy clearly doesn't come cheap but there is a lot to learn and fun to have in a sunny utopia for all ages.
A blinded view but has Sinclair really signed?
Enough of that talk of shower gels and movies, what do we really think about the Addicks at the moment? Second-tier football has meant fifth-rate media coverage for me and others abroad so when it comes to enlightened comment its hard for me to give a valued view on the current plight of the team, and also our competitors to be frank.
The division as I expected is wide open, everyone can beat each other. Stoke lost to bottom-three Preston tonight
. West Brom, who I thought and others seemed convinced off, were nailed on to run away with the title a month ago. Watford are up and down like the proverbials and below us teams fall over themselves to get in the top six, whilst Palarse head back to the neverland.
Then we have Plymouth and Bristol City, whom without the help of the modern internet I wouldn't know one single player in their teams plus Stoke, whom some people think will go up automatically. Really? Help me out here.
Surely we are still in it, aren't we? 12 games to go, admittedly we need to adjust some team selection and Pardew seriously needs to earn his sometimes self-imposed reputation. The time is now Pards. Less balls spoken and more balls on the pitch please.
I am certainly not in the Pards Out camp but has he really signed Scott Sinclair tonight on loan from Chelsea? How many wingers do we need. And why isn't Semedo playing. And what happened to 4-5-1 away from home. Where has all our pace gone? And should we, whisper it, put Iwelumo in instead of Gray? Or, hold the back page, play Varney up front on his own. Has Padrew done that yet?
I don't know, I'm just some bloke who can't get the commentary and reads every single Charlton comment that I can digest in a day without pulling my grey hair out or getting the sack. The chase for promotion is going to go to the end, and the teams challenging, including us are each so erratic that nothing is certain. The cream rises to the top, we have some of that cream in our squad, Pards just has to stir it all together.
By the way, good luck to the youth team tomorrow
and I hope they get a good turnout. I have heard that Damien Matthews and Gritty have gotten them playing some lovely, fast paced football. Hey, Gritt and Matthews? Has a certain ring to it doesn't it? Just kidding Al.
Incidentially if all perspective of being a Charlton fan has gone, read this superb reminder
posted by Oggy Red
on Charlton Life
tonight. It is
why we love Charlton.
Come on, you know this is the moment you have been waiting for. The Shower Gel Chronicles by Chicago Addick
. What a wonderful idea for a blog, although if you click on the 'Next Blog >>'
link at the top of this page a couple of times, you will probably find that some dullard has already snappled it. Drat!
I spent too many nights in hotels in the last 12 months, and therefore you will be grateful to find out, took a lot of showers. Is it so unusual that I like to lather myself up with a bit of shower gel in the morning? Okay, before I lose your attention without further ado, please let me introduce you to The Gellies
™, Chicago Addick's Annual Shower Gel Oscars."You want more what?" The how dare you ask award.
Winner: Waldorf Astoria, New York
This landmark hotel does not have landmark service. A request for washing implements was met with a plastic bag full of earbuds, hair conditioner and toothbrushes being sent to my room!
A close 2nd: The Cove, Paradise Island, Bahamas
Service with a shrug.The rabid soap and fresh air award.
Winner: The Westin, Kyoto
Er, do the Japanese get by on karoake and whiskey alone?
A close 2nd: Club Quarters, New York
Probably the worst hotel I have ever stayed in. I could pee into the loo from my bed.
Shower Gel heaven award
Winner: American Club, Kohler, Wisconsin
This had an unfair advantage as the hotel is owned by a bathroom company. More bubbles than the Boleyn.
A close 2nd: Park Hyatt, Tokyo
Faith restored in the Japanese cleaniness stakes.
A rather nice weekend, football excluded. Friday night we had dinner with some great friends at a new Italian place
around the corner from where we live. The owner/chef came out and personally said goodbye to us, which I thought was nice until we realised that chairs were on tables and the staff wanted to go home as we were last to leave.
Saturday morning, er oh we'll skip that
. I got my haircut and found out that my hairdresser is next week to celebrate her 30th birthday, lucky she never asked me to guess, if you know what I mean?
Saturday night another dinner, not as much fun, but better food
than the night before. We then ended up at some loungey, club place with probably the ugliest and worst dressed crowd I have seen for a while. Good for the self-confidence, if nothing else.
Today in an effort to shake a hangover we went to see Gordon Halloran's ice artistry at the temporary Museum of Modern Ice
at Millennium Park (top and left). Halloran had installed a 95ft long wall of ice about 3 weeks ago, which he'd adorned with complex shapes and colours. As the ice wall melted the shapes and shards have mutated into a rainbow of colours. Very clever and there was a free 30 minute guided tour too, and I'm glad we went.
Then this evening before I sat down to The Oscars
, I played indoor football (won 2-0), the first game of a new winter season. Last week the team swept to the league title, although I'm taking little credit as I only played twice though as I've been away so much.
The Oscars 2008
Tonight I hope to roll out the red wine and sit down to watch The Oscars
televised live on ABC at 7pm. I saw a lot of fine films in the past 12 months, although looking through the list of various nominees for the 80th Academy Awards, there was a lot that I missed. These are the key prizes with the Academies nominations and my tip for winner:Actor in a Leading Role
George Clooney in Michael ClaytonWINNER
Daniel Day Lewis in There will be blood 8 I'm going to go with the Londoner to win his 2nd Oscar
Johnny Depp in Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet St
Tommy Lee Jones in In The Valley of Elah
Viggo Mortensen in Eastern PromisesActor in a Supporting Role
Casey Affleck in Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men
Philip Seymour Hoffman in Charlie Wilson's War 8 This man is a genius and he's brilliant in this great movie
Hal Holbrook in Into the Wild
Tom Wilkinson in Michael ClaytonActress in a Leading Role
Cate Blanchett in Elizabeth, The Golden Age
Julie Christie in Away From HerWINNER
Marion Cottilard in La Vie En Rose
Laura Linney in Savages
Ellen Page in Juno 8 I raved about this quirky small-budget film after I saw it, and the hilarious tomboy that is Ellen Page
Actress in a Supporting role
Cate Blanchett in I'm Not There 8 I'm going for the Aussie here
Ruby Dee in American Gangster
Saoirse Ronan in Atonement
Amy Ryan in Gone Baby GoneWINNER
Tilda Swinton in Michael ClaytonBest PictureAtonementJunoMichael ClaytonWINNER No Country For Old Men 8 One for the thriller lovers. A tough call this one, but I think this will win There Will Be BloodBest Animated filmPerspolisWINNER Ratatouille 8 It has to be. I saw it twice with my son and then he made me buy the DVDSurfs upBest Director
The Diving Bell and the Butterfly 8 A beautiful and amazing piece of workJunoMichael ClaytonWINNER No Country for Old MenThere Will Be BloodMusical ScoreWINNER AtonementThe Kite Runner 8 At last. This was my favourite film last year. Where are all it's other nominations fergodsake?Michael ClaytonRatatouille3:10 to Yuma
Blackpool away. What was the score? Hammered 5-3
"It's not far from the station and the amenities so they'll be plenty of nice food and drink on offer."
YEH, BUT A BLOODY SHOCKING PERFORMANCE. Thanks Pards, and I hope an apology to those that made an expensive and long journey is forthcoming.
Will Pardew ever stop knocking our fans and sort out the poxy team? Listen Pards, we will always be there, unlike you lot and we don't get paid a bean, not like those bunch of wasters who pretended to represent our club this afternoon.
What an appalling result. Chasing the game at two-down after 25 minutes, then after amazingly getting back thanks to Ambrose, we collapse after half-time. What did you say to them Pards? And was Gray that bad (now no goals in 15 games) or did we bring on Iwelumo to help us defensively, because that sure worked. At least Marbella was nice, eh?
Jeez, we have had some disastrous results this season, yet we are still 6th but I don't know about you but I am losing complete faith. The balance, the belief, the balls and simply the desire is not there and if Stoke and Bristol City might not have the ability, they certainly have the qualities that we clearly don't!
Pards, leave off the fans and concentrate on the job in hand because 3 wins in 15 games is disgusting with the players we have in this division. Twelve games to go, what's the rallying cry for next week I wonder?Who was one of the unfortunate sods at Bloomfield Road: Addicks Championship Diary
.Reports: Sporting Life
; Kent Online
; The Times
; Daily Mail
.More words of wisdom from Pards: "The two centre-halves and the right full-back - again - was poor. I've said that to them so I've got no problem saying it now."A bottle of fizzy pop for:
The Winter Gardens 1,500. Well done lads and lasses, they don't deserve you.
Oh I do like to be beside....
....the seaside. Lake Michigan is Chicago's very own ocean but slightly colder than even Blackpool's beach this time of year. Chicago has Navy Pier, Charlton fans will be scoffing candyfloss on one of Blackpool's three piers and of course the famed Blackpool Tower, sticking out like a beacon of fun is around 1,000ft shorter than Chicago's Sears Tower. Ok, comparing Blackpool and Chicago ain't easy but for me tomorrow my heart will be at Bloomfield Road
, although my arse will be sat on my sofa listening and following whichever way I can tomorrow's absolutely crucial match.
The players have been in Marbella this week preparing for the rarefied sea air of Blackpool and everything the tangerines can throw at us. After a run of just 3 wins in 12 league games, yet only 3 defeats the next run of games are so important to our season.
Pardew said that we will need to "spread the play"
and I would personally like to see a change in wide men tomorrow. Lloyd Sam I think, has been treading water for some weeks now, so I would start with Thomas on the right and then replace Ambrose with Lee Cook.
There will be a lot of Addicks in Blackpool tomorrow (and probably tonight), I really hope that they all out on the Pleasure Beach afterwards and not in the cold Wintery Gardens.
I get the Red Card
Well blow me down with a red feather. I got home last night, flicked through the nearly entirely trashy post, and then, there it was..... My Charlton Red Card. 13 months after I originally applied for it. My, those staff cuts down at The Valley were bad!
And that now means, according to the accompaning letter, that I get the "chance to buy tickets for matches played at The Valley."
How very generous. I'm enlisted to the daily bulletin news service, which means I'll now get two copies and I get free entry to reserves games. Superb. Plus a chance to win a first team shirt signed by Marcus Bent, Amdy Faye, Andy Reid and Djimi Traoré. Beautiful.
The future's bright, the future's red
I like others was heartened to read about last night's 5-1 win over Swindon
in the FA Youth Cup. I'm sure a tougher test awaits next week in the quarter-finals but after a dearth of recent young talent coming through the academy it cheers every fan to see homegrown players set tongues wagging, even though statistically only a couple of those that played so well last night will make it, at the highest level. Hopefully each one of current exciting crop flourishes into a professional of some standing or another but the more that wear the famous red of Charlton the better.
Charlton's recent arrangement with clubs in the Ivory Coast
plus the existing relationships with Germinal Beerschot, MyPa 47 and Herfolge Boldklub all gives us reason to be enthusiastic about our future.
I'm not home yet despite leaving the Bahamas yesterday morning. Work took me to Pontiac, Michigan
last night, arriving at a hotel at 11.15pm, going straight to bed after a knackering day of travelling, and waking this morning to check out. All for $149 + taxes. Boys and girls, travelling is not always what it appears.
I was part of a client presentation this morning and now I'm at Detroit airport waiting for a flight home to Chicago. I can't sodding wait to see my own place, lie in my own bed, watch my own television and see our brand new bathroom, completed whilst I have been away from home all but 3 of the last 21 nights.
Tomorrow I hope to start to put some routine back into my life, although our too quick an excursion to Paradise Island in the Bahamas was a fantastic break and I hope to write more on that soon.
My Chicago - #14 Old Town
is indeed old and served as a trading area to many Native American tribes, whom were forced further west of Illinois following the Treaty of Chicago in 1833
. The land was then settled by some of the millions of German who made the midwest their home in the 1860's.
An American phonemena called 'white flight' then took over in the 1950's as families sold up and moved out of racially tense cities, such as Chicago and set up home in newly found suburbs. However Old Town had a bohemian feel to it, the artists had already been around for a while and it was the swinging 60's so Old Town became home to the hippy movement, particularly around Wells Street and North Avenue.
Boutiques started to open selling clothes and household items including the first ever Crate & Barrel
store (the privately owned chain of stores is estimated to now have sales of $1bn) and Old Town School of Folk Music
opened too, which is still there, as the enclave became the centre of Chicago Folk Music. The Old Town Ale House
also played it's part in the drug-fuddled Old Town of the 60's.
Following the 1968 Democratic National Convention
and the recent assassinations of both Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy riots became common place in the Old Town area, which forced more people out.
Racial tension followed in the 80's but Old Town held most of it's charm, for which people that live there or visit should be pleased about today.
Old Town is most known in Chicago for it's Art fair
. Normally held in June with over 200 stalls selling all kinds of art work, fairly priced too. I spent a bit of money there in my first year here. As well as the art, there is live music, a garden walk, plenty of food and stuff for kids to do.St Michael's
church is one of the oldest buildings in Chicago dating back to the mid-1800's. Built by redemptorist Fathers for the German community, the church was severely damaged in the Great Chicago Fire but the walls and tower survived. It is also the tallest church in the city. Not many people know that.
Old Town is also home to the oldest standing train station serving the CTA
Elevated Railway (The L). The station at Sedgwick and North was built in 1900 and looks like it, although it is currently undergoing construction.
Wells Street is the main thoroughfare and is where most of the action happens. I love Adobe Grill
and it's superb guacamole prepared tableside. Across the street is French stalwart Bistrot Margot
, rather usurped though by the new Old Town Brasserie
. We ate there a few weeks back and the food was excellent. A great place to take visitors though is Twin Anchors
. A Chicago institution since 1932, the barbequed baby back ribs are messy but gorgeous. The bar is fun to hang out in, and this was the first ever place I ate in in the city.
The Old Town Triangle
as it's also known has some unusual little shops, such as The Spice House
, push the door open and smell a world of heady aromas. Pulp & Ink
sells some great handmade cards, the beautiful House of Glunz
has 5 generations of tradition in selling wines and spirits and the Old Town Aquarium
is a one-stop-shop for anything aquatic from a fish in a bowl to a full blown commercial installation.
As would be expected with the origins of Crate & Barrel there are plenty of 'housey' shops, Fleet Feet is a ru
nner's dream, Haberdash
is a fine mens clothes shop with good sales and Nicole Miller
is a female equivalent.
Old Town is also home to Second City
, the comedy venue that launched the careers of John Belushi, Mike Myers, Bill Murray and the late Chris Farley. There are live acts every night on two stages and well worth a visit. Zanies Comedy Club
is just a block away and makes Old Town the home of the Chicago comedy scene.
Old Town is one of my favourite Chicago neighbourhoods, the streets are leafy and it has a old fashioned village feel to it. Just a spit from the lake, this neighbourhood is certainly a place for a stroll.
Walker on water
Life's twists and turns."When I learnt the deal had fallen through I was really upset. I always felt fit and didn't feel there was anything wrong with me"
Watford at home. What was the score? Drew 2-2
Sitting by the pool under blue skies in the Bahamas is hardly the place to get pissed off, so I'm not. At 2-0 I was very relaxed and even treated myself to a midday Kalik
as I read my mate's half-time text report. 10 minutes later I almost ordered a crate when I received a text saying 2-2.
What happened? Dodgy ref? A minute of madness? Another ex-Addick ruining the script? Another two points thrown away and the only thing consistent about our season is our inconsistency. It is two months since we last won two consecutive matches. Not good enough for automatic promotion but then compared to previous incumbents from past season's are Watford and Stoke?
There are 13 games left, have we the belief to go on a run or are we just going to stutter into the play-off's? There is no point in thinking about the play-off's, even though those living further afield need too, because why would we play to finish 6th - we can leave that ambition to the Palarse's and the Hull's.
Keep it going Pards, I'm buoyed by the performances of McCarthy, Halford, Gray and Cook. The long conversation I had with my mate after the game still had me believing, and I assure you it wasn't the Bahamian beer or the sun.Who was at a disappointed Valley: Addick's Championship Diary
; Blackheath Addicted
; All Quiet
; Charlton Athletic Online
; One From The Training Ground
.Reports: BBC Sport
; Kent Online
; Sporting Life
; Watford Observer
.What Pards' said: "I told the linesman I hope he got his decision right because it altered the result, and I'm convinced we would have defended the second goal better if we hadn't had the shock of the first goal."
A bottle of fizzy pop for:
Greg Halford. It looks like we have found the player that Halford once was.
The right to bear arms
Chicago or at least it's suburbs has twice recently headlined the world's news with tragic events. At a Lane Bryant
store in an ordinary out of town mall called Brookside Marketplace five women were killed on February 2nd
. The killer has not been captured. Then yesterday
a 27-year old ex-student went back to his college, Northern Illinois University
and shot dead five students and injured fifteen others before turning the gun on himself in a lecture room.
Tinley Park is from what I know a nice area, about 30 miles south-west of downtown Chicago. It is thought that the suspect
planned to rob the Lane Bryant store, but got scared took six people hostage killing five of them, four of whom were customers enjoying a leisurely Sunday shop and one a part-time store employee.
Meanwhile Stephen Kazmierczak
, apparently fitting the "quiet, white skinny guy"
image had no motive nor previous criminal record. However he claimed infamousy around the world yesterday when he woke up in the morning and decided to do what he did. NIU is about an hours drive north-west of Chicago.
Yesterday's shooting was the fourth such incident on an American school campus in the past week. On February 8th, a woman shot two fellow students before committing suicide at Louisiana Technical College
, in Baton Rouge. In Memphis
, Tennessee, a 17-year-old is accused of shooting and critically wounding a fellow student during a high school gym class on Monday and a 15-year died in a junior high school in Oxnard
, California after being shot.
This sure can be a crazy country to live in. Remember a student killed 32 people at Virginia Tech
last year. However not once in my time in Chicago have I felt even slightly threatened living in the city. Innocent young people probably thought the same until recently. As Chicagoan's try to consign these tragic events to the television news, life in Chicago goes on, BUT so does American's "right to bear arms."
Sepp, are you feeling unwell?
Even Sepp Blatter, probably one of the stupidiest idiots in the game can see it. "This does not take into consideration the fans of the clubs and it gives the impression that they just want to go on tour to make some money."
On the search for sun
Well we saw the sun for the first time over Ft Lauderdale this morning just as we jumped in a car with blackened windows for the airport. The weather forecast for the island of Bahamas we are staying on is not fantastic but it will be rest and rest is what I need, although it would be a plus if I get to squeeze out some sun lotion.Ft Lauderdale
has a split personality depending on its visitors. Out of season conventioners, snow birds, young families and baby boomers take flight to the charming water inlets enjoying the Latin-influenced metropolis just 30 miles north of much busier Miami.
At other times of the year and if you plan on coming, please check your dates, young Americans descend on this, from what I saw tranquil resort, and despite what they tell their parents back in their suburban cocoons go absolutely mental. Benidorm with an American accent.
Ft Lauderdale is spring break mecca and beachside demeanour becomes teenage and college kid hell. Summer's are hot and humid, and its tropical climate also becomes a magnet for the odd stray heavy storm, and spotty kids making out on the beach I expect too.
Look out into Ft Lauderdale's piece of the Atlantic Ocean and you will see cruise ships and boats. This is a major yachting centre and keeping on the water theme, the International Swimming Hall of Fame
is located on Fort Lauderdale beach. That is not the cities claim to fame though, that would be the world's largest drive-in movie theater, it has 13 screens!
'The Venice of America' it is known, and there are a lot of beach-shack type restaurants settled around the myriad of canals and inlets but a couple of better quality ones are Jacksons
, although don't go to the latter if your starving or in a rush. I was told the famous Don Shula's
was disappointing but there is a lot of food choices, especially around Las Olas Boulevard. And finally Elbo Room
is a good place to get drunk and let your hair down after a long day stuck in a conference, allegedly.
Charleston, South Carolina
Hello y'all. What a fine place Charleston was. Steeped in history this is truly the old south. Settled by the English in 1670, Charles II 'gave' Charles Towne, named after himself of course, to eight of his closest buddies and they were soon joined by other colonists from England, Bermuda and particularly Barbados, whose people brought with them what was to become important rice cultivating techniques.Charleston
was regularly under attack from sea and land raids by the Spanish and French, so the colonists erected a fortification wall around the small settlement to aid in its defense, some of this was recently discovered downtown by property developers.
By the early 19th century Charleston was home to a cocktail of immigrants and until about 1830, the largest and wealthiest Jewish community in North America. South Carolina was also a not so wealthy home to thousands of slaves. At this point in history 40% of black people that were brought to North America came through Charleston to work as slaves for wealthy plantation owners and merchants.
After the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783), in which the Siege of Charleston
was one of it's major battles, this became the richest place in America. Nine out of ten of the wealthiest people in the country lived here. Rice grown in low-lying swampy fields using skills brought by African Slaves, the most sought after and expensive, created huge prosperity to Cha
rleston's rich. Carolina Gold they called it and Charlestonian's spent it building grand homes, a theatre (America's first) and horse racing courses
. Some of the countries first banks opened here too and in fact the South Carolina National Bank of Charleston
has operated as a bank on Broad Street since it was constructed in 1817.
A private group of residents created the exclusive Charleston Library Society in 1748 and they helped establish the College of Charleston
in 1770, the oldest college in South Carolina and the 13th oldest in the United States and still today a prominent landmark in the city.
Then came the invention of the Cotton Gin, a machine invented by Eli Whitney that separated the cottonseed from the raw cotton, a task previously done by slaves and taking hundreds of man-hours. This revolutionized cotton's production and it quickly became South Carolina's major export, with a lot of it heading to the textile towns in northern England. Cotton was king and rice was gold.
On Chalmers Street you can still visit one of the old Slave Markets
. By 1820 the majority of the population in Charleston was black and all was not well. West Indian slave Denmark Vesey planned what would have been one of the largest slave rebellions in the United States but word was leaked and Charleston's authorities arrested the plot's leaders and executed them.
This is not a part of history that South Carolinian's are very proud off but for the next 40 years the 8th State admitted to the Union, and one of the 13 colonies that declared independence from the British Crown during the American Revolution, became more and more embroiled in disputes with Washington's federal government.
In December 1860 just after the election of Abraham Lincoln
, who views on slavery were contrary to those in most of the southern states, the South Carolina General Assembly made the state the first to ever secede from the Union, citing one of the causes was the election to the presidency of a man "whose opinions and purposes are hostile to slavery."
Subsequent historians have argued that Lincoln was more concerned with the break up of the Union, and it's reputation in Europe than abolishing slavery however.
Five other states followed South Carolina's secession and a geographical line had been drawn across the country as the North turned their back on slavery. The south adopted their own constitution, elected their own president, Jefferson Davis
, and Confederacy was born.
After Texas joined the Confederacy in March 1861, all Federal forts and navy yards along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts were seized by the new southern government, all except one.
Fort Sumter was occupied by Major Robert Anderson
and 85 men from the First US Artillery. Throughout the winter of 1861 calls for Anderson and his men to leave the Fort and return north went ignored. The whole country watched Fort Sumter as the Union teetered on the edge of implosion. On April 11th Confederate Brigadier General P.G.T. Beauregard
gave the final warning, an hour for Anderson and his men to surrender Sumter. Anderson refused and at 4.30am on April 12, 1861 the first shots were fired in what would become the bloodiest war in America's history. 970,000 people died, two-thirds of whom were soldiers, more than all other U.S. wars combined. You can go still visit Fort Sumter
, as we did, and an eerie monument to war survives (above right).
Charleston took a very long time to recover after the Civil War ended in 1865. A year later a huge earhtquake damaged 2,000 buildings and the cities population slumped as did it's industry and it wasn't until after WWII that Charleston finally started to find it's feet.
Miracously Charleston today looks like none of that ever happened. A place that was disfigured and scarred today stands tall and proud. For visitors in the 21st century the great thing is that due to a lack of money in the mid 20th century, Charleston could not afford to build new buildings, so they hung onto their existing ones, re-using them as opposed to knocking them down. How very un-American!
Charleston's streets are grand and lined with huge live oaks. Many of the beautiful historic houses are open to the public and Rainbow Row along the waterfront with it's beautiful pastel coloured homes is absolutely stunning and a must for a walk or a horse-drawn carriage ride. These homes 'South of Broad' around Meeting St, Church St, Tradd St and East Batt
ery originally built by rich merchants that in different circumstances would have been pulled down are now worth upwards of $7m.
The French Quarter, once home I'd imagine to rowdy sailors and evening attractions that rowdy sailors seek on land, is now a tourist trap with the City Market
at it's centre. 200 years old and formally a farmers market, not a slave market which is a popular misconception, it sells every kind of touristy memento you will need from your visit.
The cobbled streets around the City Market is a bounty of small boutiques, restaurants and galleri
es. King Street dissects the city north to south with student life at one end - ok if you like 18 year olds, and a lifestyle for the chic, like moi, at the other. Calhoun Street is lively with Marion Square
at it's base, once a parade ground. The square has many monuments including one dedicated to John C. Calhoun, an outspoken proponent to slavery. Charleston does not hide it's past, although the proposed African American Museum is a long overdue recognition.
Charleston was known as the Holy City due to it's tolerance to all kind of religions. St Michael's Church
stands on the site of the first Anglican Church built south of Virginia, built in the 1680's for English families arriving in the new world.The Old Exchange
and Customs House built in 1771 and visitors can still the dungeons in the basement. Patriot's Point Naval & Maritime Museum
is located in Mount Pleasant across the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. The 890ft USS Yorktown which saw service in WWII and Vietnam is now home to the aircraft carrier. The Arthur Ravenel Bridge (above) is the longest cable br
idge in the Western Hemisphere.
Both Mt Pleasant, a place where many early Colonists settled, welcomed by the local Native American tribes and the Isle of Palms are both worth a drive. The Isle of Palms
is a beautiful barrier island where turtles hatch on the beaches and families vacation. The Wild Dunes
resort is here, as well as some the largest residential homes on the Atlantic coast.
Other places of interest include the South Carolina Aquarium
, which extends itself out onto the harbour and next to this is an IMAX theatre. Gibbes Museum of Art
is housed in a Beaux-Arts building in the historic district and portrays 18th and 19th century American works and the Marina is a place to charter a boat, or just dream of owning one while having a pint. Charleston is also a busy port
city as well, the 6th biggest by cargo value.
An excursion worth doing is to one of the remaining plantation's, to which there are many. The stately Magnolia Plantation
has been the ancestral home of the Drayton family since 1676. The 11th generation of Drayton's currently live there on 30 acres, although the whole plantation stretches to 500 acres and it is the oldest public gardens in America.
Guided tours can be taken either by foot, train or boat and the Audubon Swamp Garden is nearby.
Charleston lies very low with the Ashley and Cooper River running either side of the peninsula the city floats on. The weather was beautiful when we were there 10 days ago but the summer's are humid like hell. This part of the Atlantic is also very susceptible to hurricanes
, so if you choose to go in the summer, good luck.
As far as sports goes Charleston does actually have a professional 'soccer' team, which plays in the UCL, the league below the MLS. Called Charleston Battery FC
they actually play, sadly, in one of only a handful of purpose built soccer stadiums in the States. Blackbaud Stadium
holds 5,100 fans and they actually get about 2,500 for each home game.
There is no shortage to great places to eat and drink. There are some college areas best avoided, unless of course you like that kind of thing but underage drinking did seem a problem. However we did come across some fun places, particularly around the Market and on Kings Street. A couple of my favourites were The Griffon (18 Vendue Range), Moe's Downtown Tavern (5 Cumberland St) and Pearlz Oyster Bar
, with only me stupid enough to try the house favourite Oyster Shooter. One night we had a superb dinner in a French place called 39 Rue de Jean
and another place that I can highly recommend was Hominy Grill
in Harleston Village for true lowcountry food. Grits are a bit of an acquired taste though!
I really enjoyed Charleston, it was a perfect time to go and this lively city has a lot to see and do. When you've travelled America widely it doesn't take you long to realise that there are a lot of places that chronicle little or none of the world's history. This is not true of Charleston, which over 300 years has played a dynamic role in shaping America's history and culture.
Sheffield Wednesday away. What was the score? Drew 0-0
Feel like a mole at the moment after being hidden away in big dark rooms listening to presentations, involved in meetings, dinners or stood at the hotel bar since Sunday evening. The weather has been terrible down here in south Florida, so any available mooching outside downtime has been done instead within the confines of the hotel or in my room.
Yesterday afternoon I popped back to my room a couple times to tune into what was happening at Hillsborough and frankly was initially very disappointed that once again we could not overcome a bottom-three side. I have only read the OS
report, and none of the other blogs as time has not allowed but today I guess my viewpoint has softened to that of it was a decent result considering Weaver and McCarthy were our best players and that it is 4 points in two games.
However the facts remain that our season continues to be stuttering, not disimiliar as I have said before to West Ham's promotion winning one under Pardew. We know we have the superior quality have failed consistently to show it, often against teams evidently poorer than us.
Since our home form has improved our away form has gone backwards, suggesting to me that we should go back to 4-5-1 on our next road trip. Of course we keep doing is putting pressure on ourselves and Saturday's game arguably becomes the biggest of our season. Watford's rise back to the top coinciding with the Baggies demise just shows how crazy this division is, one that only 10 points separates 6th from 18th.
The two teams deviating the least at present are Bristol City and Stoke, credit to them but one can't help but feel that we are better and that it is still very much in our own hands. Believe Charlton, believe....Who was at a Hillsborough:
Reports: Daily Mail
; Sporting Life
; Unofficial Owls
What Pards' said: "Nicky's a great character and that save in the first half was almost as good as David James at the weekend - brilliant."
A bottle of fizzy pop for: Nicky Weaver. At first thoughts it was two points lost, but on reflection Weaver was the reason we left south Yorkshire with one.
Not as good as being there
I reckon I have read every report, every comment on every message board and studied every photo of Friday's awesome performance and nope it's still not as good as being there. Nevertheless what a wonderful weekend it has been for all Addicks around the world, just a shame that those Palarse twats don't give two hoots about us. LO,'kin L!
It has made me want to work on my travel plans for early March when I want to get home and catch a couple of games. Saying that, travelling is the last thing I want to do at the moment, I have truly had it up to here *taps forehead rigoursly with hand* with being on planes and stuck in airports. Hang on, hum, a rough calculation makes it that I have slept in my own bed just about a week in the last four.
And, in an hour or so I take off to Ft Lauderdale in Florida for our work group's annual symposium. The carrot of this trip is that I will be joined by my long suffering half midweek to go onto the Bahamas for a 5-day holiday.
It has been a frantic few weeks. We still have the builders living in, well not quite but it seems like it. They are doing a fine job but you know, these blokes do have problems with their days. "It will all be done by Wednesday,"
said with a Latvian American twang. "Oh Wednesday, what friggin' month exactly?"
said with South London sarcasm.
Also one day this week I woke to the sad news that one of my mate's Mum's had succumbed to the evil of cancer, but almost at an identical time other friends of ours brought a new baby into the world, their first. Someone will have to explain the karma in that.
There is a lot going on, and there is a probability that the road that Chicago Addick
travels, may well take a turn, but more of that another day when I get closer to the crossing.
Not helped by an old German friend in town last night searching for pinot noir, my man-flu is a bit better thanks for asking, although I don't like talking about it! I did find some fantastic drugs, Luke Varney it said on the bottle. Take two every 90 minutes.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend. My only Charlton, you make me happy....
Crystal Palarse at home. What was the score? Won 2-0
A cure for man-flu! What a man that Luke Varney is eh? True to their word, I was getting texts and calls from as early as mid-afternoon from mates whilst I drove from Napanee in Ontario and then a final report live from a noisy and happy Royal Oak as I waited at Toronto airport for my delayed flight home.
It sounded like a terrific performance, full of heart, energy and skill completely outclassing our second rate rivals. Some people have said that it is still only 3 points. True but it's 3 glorious points to be savoured for long after the next game.
However it is now consistency that we need, a run. But for me last night a slug of night nurse and some very sweet dreams have gone a long way to curing my horrible bout of man-flu.Who was at a Happy Valley: Blackheath Addicted
; Drinking During the Game
; Addicks Championship Diary
; Charlton North Downs
; Frankie's view via NYA
; All Quiet
; Charlton Athletic Online
; SE3 Addick
; Kent Online
; Sky Sports
.What Pards' said: "I enjoyed the way we played. This team is good enough for promotion but do they have the consistency?"
A bottle of fizzy pop for:
Kelly Youga. By general consensus, please start those contract negotiations now.
Who are ya?
Grrrr. The anger and phlegm, quite frankly, has been rising in me as the week has got longer. I am not a well man, I'm really not. Oh and I'm angry too. Bloody Palarse come to Charlton on Friday night and where will I be? I'll be in some rented 10mpg lump of a North American car driving from Napanee
in Ontario to Toronto Airport, 144 miles all told. And it is going to snow like it's bloody Christmas Day in Lapland.
I would of course rather be in the pub meeting my mates at 2pm, like they are or if I was allowed a second choice, sat at home on my sofa with my cyber ex-pat chums on Charlton Life
, anything but driving through Ontario.
I hate Palace I really do, sorry if that's a bit strong and irrational. I'm middle aged (ooh, didn't like writing that), half intelligent and often quite rational but, apologies, that is how I have felt for a long time.
Team of the 80's, the floodlights turning off, the portacabin, Ron Noades, Arthur Waite, their googly-eyed supporters, Eddie McGoldrick, the Orange one, men beating kids up on trains. They are not worth a toss, and I would love to join in with others tomorrow to express those emotions but I can't, I will just sit there driving the unploughed roads through snowy Canada mumbling grumpily to myself, oh and coughing like a old man too.
Everyone in that ground tomorrow with red and white on your back (the players included perlease) and red and white in your soul, make them lot from Croydon feel as insignificent and unwelcome as is possible. Come on you reds.
Chinese to go
ZZ is flying back from China tonight, please mate don't eat the airline food and keep of the $5 plonk, trust me it's not nice. You probably saw
that he got the late equaliser for his home country in the Asian Cup game away at Iraq, in fact the game was played in Dubai as Baghdad was considered unsafe (no shit sherlock). Anyway that wasn't a bad result today for the Chinese against the current Asian champions.
Meanwhile, you may not have seen this interview with our man in the Daily Mail
. "If you want to do something, then do it."
Super Shrove Tuesday
I feel pretty yuck today. The weekend in Charleston was excellent, a right laugh but the travelling to and from was bad, very bad. I arrived down in South Carolina 7 hours late on Thursday night due to snow in Chicago and then yesterday it took me 13 hours to get home because of the weather in, yep you guessed it Chicago. The worse fog
for many years hung over the city all afternoon after a snowstorm in the morning forcing the closure of its two airports and after getting to Charlotte, which is about 200 miles north west of Charleston, I then spent all afternoon and evening at the airport there, finally departing at just before midnight. I hit my pillow last night at around 2am, just after I set my alarm for 6. Hello man flu.
The good thing is I don't have to get back on a plane until, oh Thursday morning. I fly to Toronto to host a plant tour of one of my clients. The factory is about a two and a half hour drive east along Lake Ontario. In the meantime Chicago is expected to see its biggest snowfall of the winter tonight, around 14 inches
Anyway enough of that. Today in some more familiar parts of the world it is Pancake Day or Shrove Tuesday
but not to be outdone it is Super Tuesday
in America, with 24 states holding either election primaries or caucuses today. So I'm off home now to eat a hot plate of chili to blow my man flu away and watch the television
as it unravels.
Paulo Armando Da Silva Monteiro
, 23 years old and a free agent has signed initially until the end of this season. The 6ft 3" Monteiro has been on trial at The Valley and formed part of a very skilful and very successful Portugese under 19 and under 21 team alongside Jose Semedo.
Welcome to The Valley Paulo and I hope you get your chance.
Jolly Blue Giants
Underdogs New York Giants
prevented the New England Patriots finishing the NFL season unbeaten and claiming immortality in Super Bowl XLII
yesterday. The Giants defence led by long-serving Michael Strahan swarmed all over the Patriots' previously untouchable quarter back Tom Brady, sacking him five times and hitting him nine.
It was a fantastic match and as the Giants swarmed around the field from the start, it looked like the Patriots had a sense of entitlement early on, however they still led with just 75 seconds to go 14-10. The Giants had possession but faced a third down and five yards to go from inside their own half.
Eli Manning, brother of last's year's champion quarter back Peyton, looked almost certain to be sacked but he managed to stay on his feet and escaped his assailants to throw a massive pass that seemed to be sailing high over the head of wide receiver David Tyree.
Tyree leapt, with his arms entangled with a Patriots defender's, and brought the ball down as he fell to earth, wedged between his hand and his helmet. That catch will go down as legend as one of the most extraordinary catches in Super Bowl history.
That took the Giants to the Patriots' 24-yard line. Another three plays went wasted as the clock ticked down. Then the oft-criticised Eli Manning threw a short pass to Plaxico Burress for the touchdown that, with only 35 seconds to play, would give the game one of it's biggest ever upsets. "I think we shocked the world,"
said Michael Strahan. They certainly shocked the Patriots and the pub I was in, in Charleston mirrored the rest of the country I assume except the north-eastern corner of the country who will wonder how a team that no one has got near beating this season ended it with nothing.
My Chicago - #13 West Loop
One of the cities newer neighbourhoods, the West Loop
is the collective area across the Kennedy Expressway on the other side of the financial Loop district.
Historically the place was made up of factories and lofty warehouses, specifically in the meat and food service industry, and some of those companies remain around Fulton Street. Many of the lofts have been converted into apartments and there are some beautiful old buildings in the area added to by some modern high rises tempting Loop workers just a mile or so away from their offices.
In my mind the neighbourhood is still a bit hit and miss, there are certainly some streets, particularly by the railroad tracks leading out of Union Station that you'd not want to be walking around after dark, yet there are some parts that are officially trendy with cool shops and some of the best restaurants in the mid-west.
Bars tend to be of the late variety, and Lake Street particularly has a number of clubs tucked away under the El tracks. Wet
probably being the best according to people more familiar with the situation than me!
I do like Fulton Lounge
though but I'm more familiar with the restaurant scene. West Randolph Street is officially restaurant row with a new opening happening almost weekly. T
here are some great places to eat on this street and too many to list but I love the tiny Avec
and Paul Kahan' Blackbird
, which is next door. My all time top sushi place is Sushi Wabi
, the tarantula maki is to die for and for posh Mexican go to de cero
The whimsical Marche
is like walking into a theatre's costume and prop storeroom, Follia
is a superb Italian and both Carnivale
and Alhambra Palace
are worth having a drink in just to see their mesmerizing interiors.The Tasting Room
down by Union Park on the way to the United Center is a great place to view the city from and taste wine in non-snobby environment. The West Loop is best known for it's restaurants and is a constant source of items on my credit card, the latest place to take my fancy is Sepia
h opened a few months ago.
The day scene is less known, there is not extensive shopping and strangely few coffee shops, however local private and public schools encourage families to buy and do up some of the older properties on streets such as Loomis, Morgan and Sangamon.
Not surprisingly it was the artists that helped changed the demographic of the West Loop. Flatfile galleries
is great for photographic work, contemporary art can be found at Gescheidle
and the Linda Warren Gallery
(left). Mars Gallery
is in the Fulton Market area and there are many others worth a window browse between Peoria Street and Racine Avenue.
I like Fulton Market
because every turn of a corner shows up something different. Many of the fresh food companies still operate around here and galleries and studios compete with cargo trucks and workers carrying crates of produce. Some of the loveliest old loft buildings are around here too.
Oprah Winfrey's Harpo (Oprah backwards) Studios is on 1058 W Washington St.
Oprah, the world's 500th richest person tapes her shows
in front of a live audience 3 days a week at the studio, a former armoury. Visit Wishbone
(right) after and you may even see her tucking into some Southern cooking. Further west from here is the United Center
, home to the mighty Chicago Bulls
and Chicago Blackhawks
. The area in between is a bit iffy though, although getting safer and better all the time.
An unknown gem in this neighbourhood is the Museum of Holography
. Kids will love the three-dimensional images produced by laser lights and get in for nothing. Adults pay $2.50.
Scunthorpe away. What was the score? Lost 1-0
A couple of Addicks down here in Charleston, South Carolina trying to put to the back of our minds another poor defeat today. Beer I find normally helps in these circumstances.
How we have won only two in eleven including dismal defeats to Scunny and Colchester in that time, yet remain 5th is nothing short of astonishing.
We seem to make it so hard for ourselves, even a mini run of wins and draws would probably see us top two. Generally we have tightened up at the back but are still prone to errors, such as today but it's our inability to score goals that concerns me the most. Even our goal at home to Stoke Tuesday was fortunate as was Ambrose's at Watford and with our new striker now two months without a goal and Dickson injured, we are treading some deep water.
I know he's injured but how much did selling our best player, a well-known influence around the club, affect the players today? I just want to throw that one out there.
According to Pards the commitment is there, but in my mind the belief isn't and I am sure it's also slipping away amongst us supporters. Our only barometer for promotion was when we did it twice before in this league but I don't remember us then losing so many games to poor opposition. Only very occasionally this season have we had that look of a team that looks likely to achieve promotion, however surely there is nothing like our next fixture to get the desire burning. I truly hope so.Who made the long trip to Glanford Road: Many Miles
; Blackheath Addick
; Charlton Athletic Online
; All Quiet
.Reports: Kent Online
; Sporting Life
; The Times
; Soccer 365
.What Pards' said: "It was a very frustrating day."A bottle of fizzy pop for: