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Archive for April, 2009

1st DOWNTOWN SPRINGFIELD ARCHITECTURAL TOUR EXPLORES 5TH STREET SOUTH OF THE OLD STATE CAPITOL

SPRINGFIELD – On Wednesday, May 6th, Downtown Springfield, Inc. invites you to discover some interesting and little-known facts about our city’s unique architectural treasures. Designer Anthony Rubano of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will lead a walking tour discussing the architectural styles, materials, and treatments that make up historic downtown Springfield. He will also talk about design successes and areas for improvement along the way.

This free tour lasts approximately 90 minutes and begins on the South Old State Capitol Plaza at 5:30 p.m. in front of the Lincoln Herndon Law Office (6th & Adams). This month’s tour will highlight the architectural treasures on 5th Street south of the Old State Capitol Plaza. The Widow at Windsor, also a downtown treasure, located at 711 S. 5th Street, will host a small reception following the tour. For more information, please call the Downtown Springfield, Inc. office at 544-1723 or visit www.downtownspringfield.org.

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Downtown Springfield, Inc. a volunteer-driven, not-for-profit organization formed in 1993, works to preserve our historic heritage and build economic & cultural vitality in our downtown districts. Our goal is to make downtown Springfield an ideal place to shop, work, visit, invest, and live.

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George Jaworski, owner of The Granite Guy, 3755 N. Dirksen Parkway in Springfield’s scenic northeast quadrant, became Job Conger’s friend in 2007 during a reception for children artists’ awards at RMD Gallery in cubist downtown Springfield. On that occasion, Conger was taking pictures of participants and their art.  Jaworski approached him as he snapped away, conversation ensued, and Conger visited the showroom and fabrication shop soon after. Soon after that, Conger became more than a friend; he became an occasional employee.

Based on experiences helping with heavy lifting during granite installations and in the fabrication shop, as the webmaster for the business’s web site — www.yourgraniteguy.com  — and extolling the virtues of natural stone to showroom visitors, Conger has become an outspoken advocate for granite, and marble, and onyx, and tavertine.  Limestone? not so much, and that’s okay.

The community of Central Illinois is under-served by natural stone. There are opportunities for improving home and business exteriors and exteriors which Conger is committed to sharing with the public at large, NOT here at Honey & Quinine but through more conventinal channels including Facebook and radio and print media. That said, he couldn’t pass a chance to share the following photos of his weekend project, uncomplete but at least arranged.

granite walkway; initial layout for spacing

granite walkway; initial layout for spacing

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Polished granite is as visually engaging as an abstract painting and an aquarium and video with Sarah Chalke.  And here is something which Conger hopes will bring smiles to post carriers, friends and passers by.

He also planted eight packets of red poppy seeds at the inspiration of Springfield’s city-wide project to “paint the town red” for the bicentennial birthday of Abe what’s-his-name, two packets of giant sunflower seeds and two packets of mixed perennials. That’s just the start.  Waiting for post thundershower planting are 11 tomato plants and cauliflower.

He also had a terrific visit with two blasts from the past, Saturday at Writers Bloc and Sunday at home and Washington Park.  More encounters like those two, and he’s liable to re-green his entire front and back yards!

“Some days are diamonds and some days are stones” as John Denver used to sing. This weekend the days were both and gladly so.

Live long . . . . and proper.

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The utility companies were closing in on Job Conger like a troop of  aggrivated Apaches drawing near to a single covered wagon in northeast Arizona territory.  He had paid a heap of dollars at a local payment center on the 11th, and was focused on keeping his heat and hot water when he called the Ameren payment people on the 13th. He was told he could keep his gas if he’d just agree over the phone to a payment plan. That would be a no-go, he explained. Invariably over recent years, he has not paid on dates promised in said agreements and they’ve disconnected him anyway. Why set himself up for another promise to keep? So he asked if there was an additional sum he could pay pronto to keep his service for another month. Yes, he was told $78 would keep the disconnect at bay if he’d do a Quick Pay. Conger is a naiive married mother’s son. He believed what he was told and arranged the Quick Pay.

The shower on April 21 was unexpectedly “bracing,” but he figured it was because he hadn’t turned up the heat on the basement water heater beforehand as he usually does. Tepid water is fine for washing hands. COLD, what had sufficed from April to November in 2008 was okay between sponge baths with water heated in a medium and large sauce pan on the kitchen stove and carried into the tub. Bbut for full body work? FaGETit!

He made it through the chilly shower on the 21st despite the chilly water because he knew it was warmer than it would have been if Ameren had cut off the gas (he philosophized) and once committed to “bracing wet,” he was committed for the whole body treatment starting with the shampoo in what seemed room temperature craziness and working south.

On the 23rd he learned Ameren had cut the gas on the 20th, and he found out while talking with the Ameren customer service people over the phone, learning in the course of cordial conversation that the promise of keeping gas on if he paid the requested $78 was a dream. He was sans gas, no doubt about it, and his only recourse was to hustle payment of about three times that amount to a local payment center.

No frikking way, Conger decided.

He will pay the real estate taxes and his waaaaaaaaaaaay overdue electric and water bills first. He’s used to sponge baths and shapooing over the bathroom sink, but he’s not used to blogging by candle light. 

And if he should get lucky with future assignments from anywhere, he will reconnect the gas. It could be worse. He could be living in a Kelvinator crate.

“Praise God from whom all blessings flow.”

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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Job Conger had been driving a pickup truck loaned to him by his friend at “Rock City” for a week when he received a major surprise.  As he settled in behind the wheel under a darkening sky that had been spitting light rain, heading for a Springfield Classical Guitar Society concert featuring Russel Brazzel, he turned on the windshield wipers and was treated to the hum of an electrical motor somewhere under the dashboard. The moment would have been picture perfect if the sound had been accompanied by the sight of wipers in motion.

“Holy bat poop, Birdman!” he thought.

Major agua from the sky as he sat in the cozy glow of panel lights as the engine idled would have scrubbed “the mission” of affirming his support for the cause of good live music in a venue where attendees CAN hear themselves think.  The great Rainmaker from on High was not deluging the city; He was only spitting on it. Conger could deal with that.  He put the handi-challenged machine into gear and attended a terrific concert.

Partly because the vehicle is loaned, and partly because of the wipers, Conger didn’t drive anywhere Sunday and dreaded the drive to work Monday with continuing showers forecast all day Sunday. (The day began clear as a bell. )

 The left outside rearview mirror, which he noticed was missing the first time he drove it, was knocked off the truck by another employee in a close call with another vehicle. The displaced mirror now lies on the floor of the passenger side of the cabin where its value in heavy traffic is almost zero. Who knows what other surprises are in store with the machine?

His Escort may have only the faintest hint of working brakes and a right front wheel bearing whose future service to humanity will likely be as a paperweight — if that — but the upholstery is almost like new (no chunks of foam rubber and top cover missing) and the frikking windshield wipers work! Still, it’s not drivable, so the point is moot.  He’s resigned to, and almost committed to looking for a car to replace the 1986 Ford his Dad bought new eight years before he died, but there are real estate taxes coming up (who wants to set up housekeeping in a car you can’t drive?) and utility bills hanging over his head like a 10th story piano about to breach a window.  Conger is coming to truly like the pickup and if he had a brain in his head, he’d accept his friend’s offer to sell the thing to him.  The vehicle as it sits today is a hellovalot niftier collection of tires than his ancient “Blue Goose.”

But Conger is a “car guy.” He likes to see the top of the rear edge of what he’s driving when he backs up. He likes the security that comes from knowing if he has a really bad accident in a car, his demise will be swift; not protracted following a serious injury in the cab of a pickup truck. He likes the economy of a car. Three friends of his have cars and small pickup trucks, and with a real employer (someone who would never loan him a spare vehicle) Conger would own both as well.: the car for city travel; the pickup for fly dumping his sanitized garbage in rural Sangamon County.

He’s not even looking for a car now. But if somebody has a vehicle for sale, with working accessories and a workable price, he’s willing to talk.

In the meantime, he’s happy to be at Rock City for as many hours as he can be, and thankful for uncommon friends to whom he gladly avows his undying gratitude.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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The last few bars of Job Conger’s song “Dan” were playing on the office computer at work when Big Al approached from the shop. “What was that? Garrison Keillor?,” he queried.

“No,” Conger replied. “That was me and my 12-string guitar. A friend, Rick Falzone recorded it for a pilot TV show he put together a few years ago, and I’m delighted you thought you were listening to Garrison.”

True words. More than one friend and acquaintance has called the blaggering swogmeister — swaggering blogmeister if you prefer — Springfield’s own Lincolnland Home Companion, and while the flattery has been fun, the payoffs have been a hair short of expectations. The news that Conger was even on You Tube had come as a happy surprise when videographer/producer extraordinaire Falzone had e-mailed him a link to it. Not having sound on his home computer, he waited until work to see AND hear it for the first time. The result is a hoot.

For years, Conger has wanted to engage the technology requisite to post at You Tube, but the combination of minimal income and equally minimal tech savvy prevented it. Falzone’s success  (easy if you know how to do it) has inspired renewed effort to record on CD and You Tube an few dozen of his favorite songs and poems and  put a “mission accomplished” check mark on that part of his life roster.. We shall see.

If you would care to hear Conger sing the song that appears in Rick Falzone’s pilot production and see his delightful camera magic, go to You Tube and in the “Search” box, type |

RIPTV death song

and watch the fun. Then contact Job Conger to play his songs at your next special event, party or effigy burning.

Thanks to Rick for sharing the song.

Live long . . . . . and in tune.

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Job Conger’s friend E.Vern Taylor is a painter of matters connected to his ancestry and his ancestors’ homeland. They call it Africa. He’s a member of Prairie Art Alliance locally, but he merits a wider fan base. Imagine Foundation of Jacksonville, Illinois is giving him an opportunity to interface with a larger base and is giving you an opportunity to interface with him Friday night, before and after his unique presentation entitled “A Lyrical Fantasy of My Personal Africa: Kilimanjaro: the Serengeti, Along the Underground Railroad.”

image Copyright E.Vern Taylor, Springfield, Illinois

The event takes place in the yoga room (They like him alot. Most artists get the Richard Simmons Sweatin’ to the Oldies room — just kidding) at The Inner Harmony Day Spa, 227 Main Street, Jacksonville, starting at 7 pm. The presentation is accompanied by music and E.Vern’s reading of his creative writings about the subjects depicted in his inspiring and provocative oil paintings. He will have his lithographs (including the one pictured above) for sale along with greeting cards and more.

E. Vern Taylor is motivated by forces that have driven the best artists to persevere against the odds. His efforts on canvas and beyond must be seen to be appreciated, and once appreciated, must be taken home.

For more information about the presentation call The Inner Harmony Day Spa —  217-245-1888.

Job Conger will be there as a friend and fan. He hopes you will be too.

Live long . . . . . and proper.

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Springfield Classical Guitar Society presents Russel Brazzel in concert, starting at 8 pm, Saturday, April 18 at First  Presbyterian Church, 321 S. Seventh (at Capital Ave.), across from Lincoln Library. Tickets are available at the door for $12 adults and $9 students and seniors.

Russel Brazzel is the guitarist Job Conger wants to be when he grows up. Since that will never happen, the point is moot, but that doesn’t keep Conger from liking the gentleman just the same. Russel is the catalyst that created Springfield Classical Guitar Society several years ago along with a small cadre of lynch pins that have kept it rolling along.

Russel is a New Orleans native son, and if the wind is right or the wine is prime, one can hear traces of his home town when he speaks. The man’s voice and easy conviviality about classical guitar (which SINGS in his hands ) are a delight. They are the icing on the cake. His talent is the meat. In his earlier days, he was a denizen of “The Big Ampule” — make that “The Big Apple” a/k/a New York City. He worked in major guitar stores and played in concerts there, but he never became Chrisopher Parkening or John Williams. He has paid his dues. Today he teaches students one-on-one as a private instructor and also teaches guitar and music at Lincoln Land Community College. He’s a “six-string swallow returned to Capistrano” with his perennial rave performances at First Night Springfield, and he often donates his part of “the gate” at Springfield Classical Guitar Society concerts to provide additional support for booking the next season’s performers.

It’s been a good concert season. Some of the best numbers in the history of the organization have come through the big red doors at First Pres this go round. Brazzel’s appearance is a fine cap on it: local fellow with talent, friendly disposition and gladly dedicated to his art. You should be a part of the evening Saturday. Tell Mark, Cheryl and Dwayne that Honey & Quinine sent you.

Live long . . . . . and in tune.

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