Published: July 6th 2012July 4th 2012
Oops. Caught my foot in the edge of the frame
The King is dead. Long live the King. Stand aside San Fran, you've been supplanted as my fave US city.
Chicago can be different strokes for different folks but being cultural omnivores we hit the ground running to cram in as much diversity as humanly possible into 5 glorious days.
# $5 Chicago merlot from Chateau de Supermarket.
# The sauce base for "the world's best pizza", Chicago deep dish. Penny may argue the world's best claim but it is heart stopping food, metaphorically and literally.
# Ketchup on my Italian sausage dawg at the ball game. Ask for tomato sauce and you may as well have 3 heads judging by the look on the hot dawg vendor's face.
# The flames of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.
# Baked bricks that are the cornerstone of Chicago's buildings post 1871. Certain sections of this city's impressive architectural backdrop offer a glimpse into America's colonial byways.
# The red train line out of Downtown and north to The Green Mill, one buzzed up little jazz club lifted straight from speakeasy archives.
#The colour of the Cubs home strip. With a choice
of 2 baseball teams, a decision needed to be made. Everywhere we went we had the same response, " baseball in Chicago. YA GOTTA GO TO WRIGLEY FIELD"! The ground is as stooped in sporting tradition as you'll find in America and a day at Wrigley is as much about fun as the result. When fans tell you enjoyment is just as important as a win you can be pretty certain that team doesn't win too often and the cubs have a "proud" history of not winning, over 100 years in fact since their last World Series conquest. At least the fans have the tenacity to poke fun at themselves and their cursed Cubs. Eg. The quip on one of the t-shirts:
"On leaving earth, what did God say to the Cubs"?
"Don't do anything til I get back".
# The colour of the SOX, the Cub's pesky cross town rivals whose fans sneer down their noses at the boys from Wrigley, aka The Loserdome. Our cab driver from the airport was a diehard White Sox fan so I asked if their was anything at all to admire about the Cubs, from a White Sox perspective:
"Yeah, they make great dawgs" . Gotta agree with that one.
#This week's form of the Cubs. White Hot. 4 wins on the trot. Is it pure coincidence that their fortunes have changed as soon as "The Bear Whisperer" rode into town (go back a couple of blogs)? A couple of weeks back they lost 17 - 1. I want in on their payroll.
#The sand on Chicago's beaches. Huh? Call me ignorant but this is one town I didn't associate with a beach culture.
#The glowing spotlight on Orny Adams' romp at the "Up Comedy Club". His hilarious take on life's anachronisms was a steal at $10. However, be sure to observe the rules of engagement for stand up comics. Keep your mouth shut and your head down unless you yourself are lightening quick with the repartee.
#The lighting at Chicago's MCA. It matched the colour of my face as the blood drained trying to decipher what drug some artists are on. Probably everything if this version of MCA is anything to go by.
#The Cub's away shirts. Can someone explain why the fans wear blue at Wrigley whilst the players wear white.
#The gentle waters of Lake Michigan lapping those white sands above. These beaches may not be competitive with our own but sitting beneath towering sky scrapers and a thousand miles or so inland, they're not a bad substitute.
#The dialogue of the improv production at The Annoyance Theatre. Risqué but a larf. Tres clever.
# The notes eminating from The Blues House. So that one fell a tad short. Call me a stiff but the blues for me is a little like a modern day rugby league match, you know what's going to happen 6 bars down the track. Blues and league fans, give me your best.
RED, WHITE AND BLUE
Anybody remember that 70s band Chicago? They had a song that started:"
"Saturday in the park, I think it was the 4th of July".
I hear ya, July 4 this year fell on a Wednesday, but, we were in a park in Chicago on that date. 3 out of 4 ain't bad and what a magnificent city to celebrate America's 236th birthday (hope I've got the dates and maths right on that one). The fireworks may have been on the limp side but
Chicago is a city and a half. Its buxom but with the hospitality of small town America. It has a wry sense of humour and not afraid of some self deprecation, a quality I love. Chicago looks fine but more importantly it's tactile so explore it from deep in the bowels.
Chicago is like a wholesale version of New York, just don't let the locals hear any comparison with its retail big brother over on the east.
Yeatesy Flying from Vegas to Chicago I was trying to think what I knew of Chicago and my only reference was the musical "Chicago". So I gathered there was probably going to be a bit of a music / theatre scene, but my knowledge was limited. What I did find was a city of well dressed men and women who don't overdress but always look smart whether they are off to the beach or sitting in a cafe having brunch. A clean city, with no obvious graffiti, clean buses and trains, friendly police and people who go about their business and leave you to yours. The city is big but not overwhelming. It has a lake side beach in the centre of the city, very convenient for the hot 40 degree days we were there and the water surprisingly is rather cool. We managed to take a dip on the 4th July. Who would have thought we would go swimming in Chicago! It's a town that is easy and cheap to navigate. For $2.25 you can go anywhere on the grid, a far cheaper fare than going from Cronulla to the city in Australia. And there is the 'el'. Not Elle McPherson, but the el stands for their elevated train system that circles the city. A very efficient air conditioned clean train system with even clearer announcements. For that same $2.25 you can go all the way to the airport. Not only is the transport system reasonable but so too is the entertainment in Chicago and there is plenty of it. As Gary mentioned we managed to mix it with the locals in the bleachers at the baseball to see the Cubs play at Wrigley. Added to this we had a few nights out checking out the local comedy scene, a night listening to a blues band, a night at the local improv theatre followed by drinks at a jazz bar close by. But upon leaving Chicago, a city I would very much like to return to, I've learnt a few more facts about this city. Hugh Heffner started the playboy clubs here in Chicago approx 60 years ago. Chicago is a melting pot of nationalities, hence the food is pretty good. It's famous for its deep dish pizza. I'm not sure I am a fan, it tastes a bit like a pizza in a pie, too much pastry for my taste. It's home to Obama, but we didn't pop by unannounced. And the final bit of trivia I have learned is how Chicago gots its name as the windy city. Not because of the hot wind that blows against you day and night but for the politicians who in the 30's were reputed to be blowing a lot of hot air in getting bills passed for the city. Time to catch a plane to our next destination and a chance to catch up on some beauty sleep. Penny
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