My mom, who grew up in Illinois, used to tell the story of listening one day to WGN when a broadcaster starting talking about the weather in Schick-ago. It took my mom a moment to realize this person just didn’t know how to pronounce Chicago. Seriously? Who (especially on a Chicago radio station) doesn’t know how to pronounce Chicago? I don’t know if that story is really true or something she made up to keep us five kids quiet for one second, but I digress.
As far as U.S. cities go, Chicago is and has always been my favorite. I love the lake. I love the buildings. I love the art. I love the fact that there’s so much I don’t know and could learn (about all of the above and more). I love that it’s in the midwest (my heart!).
I was in the Windy City last month for a work conference, and it was truly delightful. Maybe one of my favorite trips ever. Here are a few reasons why:
I took the train from Milwaukee to the city, passing by melting snow, farmland, industrial yards, etc., all of which had a beauty of their own (except maybe the spots on the window – those were just ugly):
The Art Institute (is it just me, or are these lions way better than the NYC Public Library lions?)*:
A Monet that’s not a haystack or water lillies (although I do like those, too):
This Harold Sohlberg (whose name I’d never heard before) painting called “Fisherman’s Cottage.” As Liz Lemon would say, “I want to go to there.”
This piece (pun intended) which was (according to the informational plaque) a pile of “candies, individually wrapped in multicolored cellophane.” Adult visitors were invited to take a piece of candy, as “the diminishing pile parallels [the artist’s partner] Ron’s weight loss [from AIDS] prior to his death.” The art museum evidently has a back room somewhere full of these candies, because the exhibitor is asked to continually replenish the diminishing supply, “metaphorically granting perpetual life.” It felt really weird actually taking a piece of the art, especially because I got horrified looks from patrons who had not yet read the plaque. Being the rule follower I am, I felt the need to point out, “It says you can take a piece. Really!” I wanted to add, “I’m not a defacer! Really!” but I didn’t.
Don’t believe me about all that? Here’s the proof:
Look at these “adult” visitors enjoying their culture (the part you can’t see is the pile of candies in the corner):
Don’t tell Derek, but I love another man. Edward Hopper. Okay, so maybe I don’t love him, but I do love his art,** so seeing “Nighthawks” in person was awesome:
Back outside, some of Chicago’s law enforcement trainees were out for a run (notice the awesome blue skies, too):
And I was reminded that it’s someone’s job to actually clean all of those windows (including those that are 1,500 feet off the ground – can you imagine?):
Little Goat diner…
…where I ate some awesome spiced apple pancakes with cream cheese butter and oatmeal crumble:
The pre-Broadway run of Big Fish at the Oriental:
And Caffe Streets coffee (this was in Wicker Park, and I wondered how so many people (in the coffee shop, on the sidewalk passing by) got to be so hip):
Well, this is just a small sampling of the awesome*** from Chicago in April. There were several other memorable things that I didn’t catch on the camera, like reconnecting with several college friends that I hadn’t seen in (in some cases) years. I also feel much more comfortable with the geography of the city outside the downtown area, as I rode the el out to see said friends “in their natural habitat” (as I texted to one). I consumed a lot of amazing food, walked around the city, explored the lakefront a bit, and oh, yeah, went to the conference every day! I can’t wait to get back to Schick-ago soon (hopefully next time with Derek).
*One more thing about these lions: Once when I was in Chicago, they (whoever “they” are) were doing construction/renovation (or something) nearby, and so they had covered the lions in plastic tarps. It looked like they were wearing rain ponchos, and I LOVED it!
**Want to know why? Maybe someday I’ll blog about it.
***I was trying to think of a noun to put here, but then realized that “the awesome” kind of fit. So it’s not a typo.