Saturday, May 26, 2012

Outdoor cafes and restaurants in Orland Park

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Outdoor cafes and restaurants in Orland Park

I love Memorial Day Weekend for a lot of reasons including I get to relax and really enjoy the community. in Orland Park. And one of the real beauties of Orland Park in the summer are the many outdoor patios that several restaurants and cafes have here.

So I stopped by Shami Restaurant in the old Borders Book Store Plaza -- I miss Borders -- and sat out on the patio to enjoy some good Middle Eastern food, the great weather and the people who were buzzing about doing their shopping or just driving through.

Shami is one of the few Middle Eastern restaurants in the area, even though there are a lot of Arab Americans living here. Orland has the beautiful Mosque, and although the majority of Arabs here are Christian there is no Arab Church in Orland Park. That's too bad. Maybe it's because they can go to any church and worship whereas Muslims don't really have that many choices.

So Shami and a few other Arab bakeries including my favorite, Laila's Grape Vine on John Humprhey Drive in the Horton Plaza, really add some spice to the food options among the many great restaurant choices that are out here.

I ordered a small hummus plate, Jerusalem salad (diced tomatoes, cucumbers with tahini -- sesame seed -- dressing), a small hummus (crushed garbanzo beans with Tahini) and the Royal Plate which seemed to be a large plate of mixed chicken, lamb, ground beef with parsely (kifta kabob) and basmati (Persian) rice. And several cans of Diet Coke and enough bread to eat the hummus and feed some of the Sparrows brave enough to come near the tables and stare.

A lot of American soldiers returning from service in the Middle East have become patrons of these Arab restaurants. They went to Iraq to fight and came back loving the hummus, falafel, tahini, salads, kibbis and kabobs. Even the ones who went to Afghanistan, which isn't Arab or Middle Eastern, of course, but does share some of the same cultural foods.

The food was great but the weather was even better. And it was enjoyable, eating the hummus with cuts from the Syrian Pita Bread. One thing you learn when you serve in Iraq or visit a Middle Eastern country is that you can put the tahini-based salads on the rice to make it taste even better. That Tahini is great. (If you like Middle Eastern foods, go to my facebook page and check out one of the groups I belong to called Mediterranean Foods. You'll meet a lot more people who share their food recipes or experiences in Middle Eastern foods.)


Jerusalem, Tahini Salad

Royal Plate Chicken kabob, lamb kabob and kifta kabob

Shami is one of several restaurants in Orland Park worth checking out. And sitting out on the patio to enjoy the food makes the whole experience in Orland Park even more enjoyable.


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Can racists seek hate crimes charges against attackers

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Police in Tinley Park and the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force continue to investigate the violent brawl that took place Saturday afternoon at the Ashford House Restaurant, an Irish diner at 7990 W. 159th Street in Tinley Park on the border with Orland Park.

Mayor Ed Zabrocki, in an interview with Radio Chicagoland, said that police are still investigating but believe that some of the victims were members of a White Supremicists group. They were having a lunch meeting at the restaurant when a group of 15 to 18 anti-White supremicist individuals, youth wearing hoods and carrying bats and hammers, converged on the restaurant meeting and attacked the other activists.

Zabrocki said that five people were in custody when their car was spotted by an alert female member of the Tinley park Police Department. The other suspects involved in the attack fled but police believe the arrested suspects could lead to identifying the entire group.

Zabrocki said that police believe the group that attacked the alleged supremicists were members of the Anti-Racist Action group. Facebook shows a listing for more than a dozen such groups named Anti-Racist Action in the United States. The group, if it is the one involved, describes itself as:

The Anti-Racist Action Network (ARA) is a decentralized network of anti-fascist and anti-racists in North America. ARA activists organize actions to disrupt neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups, and help organize activities against fascist and racist ideologies. ARA groups also oppose sexism,homophobia, heterosexism, anti-Semitism, and the pro-life movement. ARA originated from the skinhead and punk subcultures.HistoryAnti-Racist Action was founded in Minneapolis, Minnesota in the late 1980s by members of the anti-fascist skinhead group Minneapolis Baldies and other activists. ARA then expanded to several communities in the United States and Canada. Members of Love and Rage, a revolutionary anarchist organization, played a major role in building ARA groups and the ARA Network in the 1990s, and the group's structure was formalized in 1994 at the first Midwest Anti-Fascist Network conference, in Columbus, Ohio.

"About 15 to 1 yesterday, there was a group of 10 to 12 people eating int he restaurant. Most were men maybe one or two men. Someone made a reservation for them and they were going to have a meeting," Zabrocki said.

"About 15 individuals came in with masks on hoods, black hoods if I recall, and they proceeded to beat up the 10 or 12 people who were meeting there. There was some confusion because there was a bridal shower going on in an adjacent room but it had nothing to do with this It was not gang related."

Zabrocki said the information was "kind of speculative" at this point.

"A lot of those folks from looking at their addresses were not even from Illinois," Zabrocki said.

"The group that came into it, I'm not sure because there were a number of names kicked around. It was an anti-racist group, anti-Homophobic group. The first group had a web site and the other group infiltrated it. It was not racial in the usual sense. No Middle Eastern connection," Zabrocki said during the radio show.

Zabrocki called it an isolated incident.

"A very sharp female sergeant got a call that they were looking for a particular car and she was very observant and she spotted the car at 159th and Harlem," he said. "She pulled the car over and got five of them. This could lead to the rest of them. They are in our lock-up and I am not sure of their status at this point."

Zabrocki said the South Suburban Major Crimes Task Force came out in force, in part because they were on the ready because of the NATO protests.

"I believe there were nine people hurt, six refused treatment and three were treated<' Zabrocki said.

Click here to listen to the radio interview (about 25 minutes into the Radio Podcast.)

The irony here is that the victims, who reportedly are involved in White Supremicy issues, could file racism charges against the alleged attackers who were allegedly reported to be members of an anti-racist group.


Saturday, May 5, 2012

Camping with the Boy Scouts troop 318 calumet/Orland park

Lake County fair grounds, Indiana -- The toughest part of camping is getting there, not the camping. So far, every time I've camped, after setting up the tent, the cot and arranging everything I had to lug from the car trunk - three trips, I've been beat. As soon as I lay down on the cot in the sleeping bag - 40 degrees below zero tolerance sleeper - I've been out like a light.

Carrying everything the block long trek from the car can be an exercise, especially after a year from heart valve surgery. But it's good exercise for sure, and with all the consulting work I've been doing lately, it beats sitting at a desk, talking into a phone and tapping away at the computer.

The toughest challenge is putting the tent up. It's not the largest tent. Supposedly it fits 6 comfortably. Right! That's baloney for sure. Who designs these tents? Corporate dudes who were never in scouts but think they know everything? They're like computer programmers. They know how to write the complex codes to design software but have no commonsense about how the needs really need to be met. Same with the tent makers. Maybe it's because I'm Arab and tents have cultural meaning. Let's get that thought on the table and out in the open right away. No, it's common sense and little more.

For example, some ideas for improvement.

Print the instructions and a picture of the tent on the outside of the tent. Who ever keeps the paper instructions? No one. It's litter that gets thrown out.

Tents have thin ropes that anchor the tent to the ground from five to six places. So why are they black so they become invisible at night and can't be seen by the people tripping over them? Why not make them bright orange to glow at night so people don't steadily trip over them nd fall or rattle the tent while you're trying to sleep?

The 10 foot flexible fiber glass sectioned poles are a great idea. At least they work!

Maybe also add a pocket on the outside of the tent to slip a card for your name, though it is fun making the name-stakes the scouts require for each tent so they easily find people after retiring for the day.

Most people will complain that while the tent will last a long time, the zippers break often. They're too taut. Making the easier to zip up so they don't break? A tent with an opening that doesn't seal to prevent insects from flying in is worthless.

Once the tent is up, it's fun. Camping outdoors in a forrest of tall oak trees is memorable. On humid nights, moisture drips from the leaves onto the tent tops below like a steady rain.

I have to give a plug to the camp scout leaders in Troop 318. They're the best. If you're lucky to have a team of great scout leaders, you are very fortunate. And watching your son mature and take on responsibility is priceless.