chicago, chicago

.. that toddlin’ town. Went to hang out in the windy city with some friends this weekend. Sadly, I think we brought the heat with us, so there was no balmy Midwestern summer to provide relief, but it was fun nonetheless. This was my first time spending any real time in Chicago. The one thing that really struck me about the city is that unlike other larger cities I’ve been to, I was really struck by the scale. It’s really in your face just how big Chicago is. NYC is big too, obviously, but the way things are divided into boroughs minimizes the overall impact somewhat. And the architecture in Chicago is just so much grander: the massive old mailorder catalogue offices/warehouses, the civic opera house, etc. Big, big, big. Brief recap of the highlights:

  • Flew in to Chicago on Thursday, only to realize my friend Cary Ann was rocking the House of Blues with her husband and musical partner-in-crime, Michael. So we made a B-line to see them there.
  • Closed down the historic Green Mill jazz club – music, dancing, and possibly a few too many whiskey sodas.
  • Mandatory Cubs game (they won), with some much-needed hair of the dog Old Style.
  • Rib festival.
  • Oysters at Shaw’s. Our gracious host Stephanie’s beau Terrence also introduced us to a shooter I’d never had before – basically vodka, bloody-mary type fixins, and an oyster. I approve. Stephenie did not approve, so I got two. I double approve.
  • Drinks at the Signature Room in the Hancock center, with a nice view of the city. I practiced my Russian with our waitress. (ya nemnoga govoryu po russkiĭ). She was very impressed. And by “impressed” I mean that she rolled her eyes and walked off, muttering “ochen horosho”. She should be glad I didn’t test out the only other complete sentence I know, which means basically “would you like to have a drink at my place or yours?” Thanks a lot, Pimsleur.
  • Architecture-oriented river tour (architecture not pictured).
  • Up-to-no-good beer-drinking on abandoned rail lines
  • .. and, in a complete 180, later that night: drinks, dinner, and dressed to the 9s at the incredibly gorgeous Palmer House hotel. (actual 9s not pictured)
  • All manner of shenanigans at Estelle’s in wicker park.
  • Obligatory visit to Millenium Park to see the big reflective thingie.
  • Learning to foxtrot in Grant Park.
  • Grillin’ out and then a Local Natives show at Lincoln Hall. Hipster-heavy, but fun nonetheless. Seriously, though, I think the lead singer even had tiny girl jeans on his ironic mustache. (this joke shamelessly stolen from Melissa.) I need to get their album, because even though I thought their show was a little too sterile/clinical, I suspect I might kinda like their record anyway.
  • And, after all that, and a harrowing delay-ridden flight back to BNA, who do we go right from the airport to go see play at the Basement? Why, Cary Ann Hearst. Apparently we are her newest groupies.

Rest of the pics are here. Can’t wait to go back!