I've been in Chicago for almost four days. As much as I laud the awesomeness of this city, I never have enough time to do all that I want when I'm here-- probably because I view this as a town for living in more than visiting. Or because the things I like to do are based on my experience of living in, rather than touring it.
The beginning of this trip was a whirlwind in which I had to get checked into a hotel, find various accoutrements for my event outfit, note that my hush puppies are not suited to running around Chicago in the rain, go to my friend's rehearsal dinner, drop off my silk dress at a cleaners on Lawrence before running out to Evanston for breakfast (at the always tasty and long-lived Le Peep) with my friends and their new adorable baby, run back downtown to the Merchandise Mart Holiday Inn to change before heading to St. Vincent De Paul catholic church in Lincoln Park to watch my friend/former roommate get hitched to a very lovely lady. And then to drink tons of wine, eat and dance at Fulton's on the River.
Yesterday finally afforded a little respite from the hustle and bustle. I saw Judy and Andrew off, and will rejoin them tomorrow, so no need for big breakfasts or last-minute shopping trips. I became determined to visit the Art Institute and trudged many extremely windy blocks in the effort. It's always funny to me how the buildings downtown, especially those close to the river, create this horrific wind tunnel that fades once I pass State Street. Speaking of State Street, I saw the travesty that is Macy's on State Street, formerly Marshall Field's, and I think they should have left it alone or co-branded it. Macy's can't leave those overpowering black awnings off the windows. They did it to the old Hecht's in downtown DC too. It doesn't speak well of their design aesthetic.
The Art Institute was a disappointment; the modern wing was closed and most of the more famous works are in storage while everything gets shuffled to and fro during renovations. I did see St. George Killing the Dragon, but generally religious art doesn't do it for me. There were some interesting photography pieces, and I checked out the Thorne Minitature Rooms, my favorite being the most modern in the bunch, complete with Picasso miniatures and MCM furniture. Overall, I found the marble floors unforgiving (due to too much dancing and walking in my heels the night before) and came away with the opinion that the $12 entrance fee ought to be reduced since half the collection is not available for view.
I wanted to visit the Shedd Aquarium and the Field Museum and go see Millenium Park (which is new to the city since I lived here) but family duty calls, and so I found myself aboard a Metra train to University Park, a village far from the heart of Chicago, and so different in scale that I'm surprised it's considered part of the region. I never fail to be amazed by how quickly this place returns to its agrarian roots as I head west or south. My aunt and cousin live near each other, and I hadn't seen either since I graduated. It was my cousin's youngest's 7th birthday party, so I was greeted with the cacophony of screaming, squealing youngsters when I arrived. I was reminded of the documentary Rize, particularly a segment describing opposing views of teaching/encouraging children to krump and clown. It's rather disconcerting to see an 8-yo dancing in that manner. Even so, it's always fun to watch little kids crib their elders, and this was no exception.
Today, I'm getting a suitcase and heading back into the city. I'll be staying in Evanston and I plan to put in at least a little time gawking at the incredible changes in the city proper and on Northwestern's campus alike. I've got pictures and I'll upload them to flickr when I get to DC tomorrow. I couldn't have picked better places to be in the lead-up to the election. I just wish I could be here in Chciago on election night proper. It's going to be a most historic time.
Sigh. I sure do love this town.