Sunday, August 13, 2006

Chicago 2003

Since airport security has now made it impossible for anyone to travel unless absolutely necessary, the next best substitute is reading about the destinations you might want to have gone to. So as a totally self serving public service, here is one of my travelogues from 2003. Any publishers out there that want to compile them for a book, I’m interested. (told you it was self serving)

Back from one of my favorite places – Chicago. It’s truly glorious the three months there's no wind chill factor.

Debby and I went back to collect Annie who had been at Northwestern University for a five week intensive theatre program for high school kids. 135 "Cherubs" took classes in theatre. Annie's performed in "the Trial of Lizzie Borden" (O.J. with an axe). Happy to report she was fabulous. Note to all high school acting teachers: NEVER let teenage boys play "old men". Not only is it an exercise in bad make up it is always embarrassing. The Little Rascals wearing grown up clothes. Play it safe. Do "Grease".

Thank God Annie didn't tell the other Cherubs what I do for a living otherwise I would be coming home with 134 head shots.

Our flight to Chicago was delayed an hour and half because a latch wasn't fastened correctly. Airline mechanics have the perfect job. Union benefits AND they get to keep 200 people waiting. Have you been on American Airlines lately? No more do they serve meals in coach. They now employ "Bistro Service", which means paper sacks containing stale sandwiches, raisins, and chips. I found myself longing for those disgusting omelets. Next year "Intermezzo Service" when they just throw you cans of C-Rations.

We stayed at the Doubletree Suites (Holiday Inn with cookies). They have the following sign hanging on the towels in the bathroom


"Dear Guest,

Everyday millions of gallons of water are used to wash towels that have only been used once. YOU MAKE THE CHOICE:

A towel on the rack means "I will use again".
A towel on the floor means "Please replace"

Thank you for helping us conserve the Earth's vital resources. “

How many housekeeping people were they able to lay off as a result? How many trees were cut down to make those little signs?

I'm just glad that little sign wasn't on the toilet paper.

In the honor bar Sparkling Water cost $2.75. At that price they'll never run out of it. They care and it shows.

Dinner Thursday night at Hugo's Frogbar (which is Gibson's sister restaurant). Nothing like a Chicago steak. Best animal fat in America. Rush Street is quite the scene on a warm summer night. Packed with people drinking. Since valet parking is $9.00 I suspect none of them had cars so they all got home safely. The care continues to show.

Anytime you turn on Channel 7 Oprah is on.

The big thing in Chicago these days is "Caramel Crisp". This is caramel covered popcorn and the shop that sells it on Michigan Avenue has LINES. Considering the beef, deep dish pizza, pancakes, White Castle sliders, etc. that Chicagoians devour this must be considered eating light.

The other big craze is American Girl Dolls. These are well made expensive dolls that kids can get to look like themselves. There is a big American Girl Doll store with lines almost as large as for the gummy popcorn. There's something a tad Stepford about seeing all these little girls clutching dolls that bear their own likeness. Of course I'd kill to have a Ken Levine action figure so who am I to talk?

There is no greater place in the world to watch a baseball game than Wrigley Field. Nowhere even close. We went Friday afternoon. Cubs vs. Arizona (that classic rivalry). The game started at 2:20. By 3:20 they were beginning the fifth inning. The game ended at 10:05 (but more on that later). Picked up a Harry Caray bobblehead doll. Debby got a George W. Bush bobblehead. It will go great with our one for Alf. Outside of Wrigley Field they have a statue for Harry Caray, their longtime announcer. On Michigan Ave. they have a statue for another sportscaster, Jack Brickhouse. You have to love a town that erects statues for baseball announcers. Here in LA. the best they can do for Vin Scully is a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which is lovely until you realize there's also one for Bugs Bunny, Trigger, and Charlie Tuna.

Across the street from Wrigley is a stand that offers "Sunglasses and Tattoos".

Everyone sitting around us was plastered. We got a foul ball in our section that went off six hands before landing in the lap of the old lady wearing an Osbourne's T-shirt. Don't drink and catch.

At 4:15 the rains came delaying the game. Debby and I had to leave anyway, agreeing to meet Annie for dinner in Evanston at 5. It rained hard for three hours. I just kept wondering how many towels you could wash as a result. The Cubs and Diamondbacks resumed playing and would continue through 14 innings. We bar hopped along Rush watching the game cursing the futile Cubs like everyone else.

Chicago loves its Cubs but it's a tough love. Fans wear jerseys that say "Cork" in the Cubs logo. In Sunday's Tribune Mike Rosenbloom wrote:

Bob Hope's death at 100 leaves one fewer person who was alive the last time the Cubs won the World Series.

The Cubbies finally won in the 14th. Time of game: 7 hours, 40 minutes. A day/night single header. A thousand people were left in the stands. Every one needed a designated driver.

I saw the apartment building they used for the Bob Newhart Show. Bet I was the only person in fifteen years to recognize it.

Chicago in the summer is the home of the "Oblivious Tourist". Revolving doors completely befuddles them. Walking without just stopping in the middle of a crowded sidewalk? Big problem.

The Oblivious Tourist in the next room is now showering with the same towel for four days. The Oblivious Tourist in the room across the hall cares even more. He hasn't showered for four days.

There is a Pancake House for every three Chicagoians.

Gino's Pizza and Shaw's Crab House were delicious and fattening as ever. But the best meal we had was at Roys. Score one for Hawaii.

Every restaurant on Rush Street was packed on Friday and Saturday night....except the Lo Ca Locale. Tumbleweeds were rolling through that place.

In honor of the upcoming Elvis festival the WGN morning weather idiot AND the anchor, donned Elvis costumes. The anchor actually read a few news stories wearing that get up. What does it say about their journalistic integrity when the most credible member of their news team was Oscar red carpet booklicker, Sam Rubin live from LA?

Sunday afternoon produced the worst local flooding in 45 years. You could even wash bed sheets everyday with that much water. People were diving into theatres to get out of the rain...except for those theatres showing "Gigli". It was still preferable to be pelted with hail.

Coming home Annie was detained by airport security at O'Hare because of her teddy bear. They then searched through her backpack and let her go through, even with a pair of scissors. Huh???

The Oblivious Tourist was unclear that when he had to put his shoes in the plastic basket to go through the X-ray machine he had to take them off first.

Time to unpack and not wash any of our dirty clothes. Because of course, we care.


Anonymous said...


IMO you could compile a few of 'em and do the rounds - somebody's bound to be interested. could give them to me and I could write a series around them >:D (Kind of a Bob Newhart Travels...)


VP81955 said...

Interesting to read this now...I'm sure in light of 2005 and the White Sox breakthrough, the Chicago landscape has changed a bit. The Cubs now look more inept than lovable.

And statues for baseball announcers...down the road, I wouldn't be surprised to see ones erected to Ernie Harwell in Detroit and Harry Kalas in Philadelphia (and let's hope Harry's statue is near that of "Michael Jack Schmidt").

Scribe LA said...

Chicago, "we care" wasn't exactly the place that I encountered when I lived in Evanston for one terrifying year. The fact that I didn't get run over in a crosswalk still makes me feel lucky, to this day. Dangerous people, dangerous place. Go to the museums, enjoy the baseball, run along the lake and try to leave asap.

The Curmudgeon said...

For scribe la:

As a life-long Chicagoan, I can tell you you'll never get hit in a crosswalk so long as you look the cabs right between the headlights.

Of course, no guarantees are made if it's not a cab bearing down on you.

So don't worry. Come back soon. And bring money.

Mystery Man said...

Chicago will always be my favorite city. I love those people. I really do. I need to get an apartment downtown and live it up.

B McMolo said...

Roy's Hawaiian is the absolute best. My wife and I always say "this year, we'll eat somewhere we've never been for our anniversary." But we always end up back at Roy's, happy as can be.

Those Oblivious Tourists remarks are all too accurate. I also love the slowly coming to a stop while walking down the steps from the L and diagonal meandering on the sidewalk while texting. Actually, I guess as many non-tourists as tourists are guilty of that one.