Big Shoulders

It’s taken me a few years, but I’ve overcome my New Yorker sneer at Chicago (“It’s so….Midwestern”) and grown to like it a lot; love may be a little strong, but isn’t out of the realm of possibility in the future. Below, a few photos from a recent trip.

S and I arrived on a truly glorious day; very little wind, brilliant blue skies. First stop after checking in at the James (a great hotel): Mag Mile. On our way there, we saw this cool place. Not sure what it is, but that’s the beauty of Chicago architecture; there’s so much to look at.

Here’s a close-up from the monster tree at one of the big vertical malls on Michigan Ave. Those are big honkin’ ornaments.

And here’s some cool detail from the Tribune building. There are pieces of other structures, including the Parthenon, Arc de Triomphe, and one of the pyramids embedded in the outer walls. How those Trib correspondents managed to get these things is no doubt a good story, and hopefully a testament to the American mastery of swiping.

I love the Bean sculpture, more properly known as the Cloud Gate. Below, a farther shot and a closer up one. If you know what to look for, you can find me and S in the lower one.

Oh, all right, here we are.

At last, the moment you’ve all been waiting for: a semi-recognizable picture of me. Here I am, outside one of my favorite places, the Art Institute. Note that it is late December and I am holding my coat.

That night, we jumped over to the small plates vegetarian restaurant, Green Zebra, in West Town, then to see actor/creator Jay Torrance’s Burning Bluebeard, way uptown at the Neo-Futurists. Performed in a beat-up black box, the show began with its 6 actors emerging from body bags to relive a 1903 performance of Bluebeard that ended in flames and 603 deaths. A great concept with a somewhat haphazard script redeemed by a powerful ending and committed, exuberant performers; of special note, the beautifully precise Dean Clark and delightful Gumby girl Molly Plunk. Theater is alive and well in Chicago, and it’s a wonderful thing to see.

The next day, we headed to the Hyde Park neighborhood to stop in at the Robie House, Frank Lloyd Wright’s masterpiece of Prairie Style architecture. Before the tour, we poked around the University of Chicago campus, starting with the Rockefeller Memorial “Chapel,” a behemoth American cathedral without a whole lot to recommend it. We searched and then found the Bond Chapel, a breathtaking gem tucked away on a quad. We had been looking for an ornament, unsuccessfully; here, we felt as if we’d stepped inside of one.

All in all, a grand 36 hours. We’ll be back.

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