Monday, August 17, 2009

My Kind of Town (Chicago Is)

Lotsa great signage in Chicago; I'm especially fond of this one.

Met up with Bill again, today in Wicker Park. We shopped at Quimby's, a kickass 'zine/comics bookstore that sold Heinous and Monorail back in the proverbial day. Quimby's offerings reminded me of all the current/former Chicagoans who publish stuff I love: Dan Clowes, Chris Ware, John Porcellino and Jake Austen. I bought a couple 'zines and the Cryptozoological Play Set, if only to add its Bigfoot figure to my menagerie.

After a subway ride across town, Bill gave me a tour of Millennium Park, with its amazing Gehry band shell and The Bean (that's us in its rain-streaked reflection, due to a recent downpour). Then I strolled around Soldier Field, where I bought myself a Bears T-shirt.

As feared, tonight's White Sox game was threatened by rain, but unlike yesterday, it only amounted to a 58-minute delay. (That's the grounds crew rolling back the tarp at sunset.) There's nothing wrong with U.S. Cellular Field (apart from its name), but there's nothing special about it either. I just wish I had made it to its predecessor, Comiskey Park (site of Disco Demolition Night), before it was razed. In any case, "The Cell" marks the 26th stadium in which I've attended a big-league ballgame (20 current, six defunct). For the record, a raucous, near-capacity crowd saw a great game; the Sox rocked the Royals, 8-7.

So, with all its baseball, hot dogs, pizza, and Old Style, that's about it for this trip. Milwaukee was fine, but I'm definitely coming back to Chicago, that toddlin' Windy City of Big Shoulders.

Sunday, August 16, 2009


Son of a bitch.

This morning I took the subway out to Wrigley Field and met my old pal Bill (former Seattleite/current Chicagoan of Lamestain fame) for today's Cubs-Pirates tilt. But, after the National Anthem was sung, it was delayed by intermittent thunderstorms for three-and-a-half hours before it was officially declared a rainout. So we went back to Bill's South Loop condo and ate Lou Malnati's Chicago-style pizza with his family. Yum.

I won't have another chance to catch the Cubs on this trip, but Chicago has so much cool stuff that I'll have to come back anyway. So far I've checked out many of the major buildings: the Sears Tower, the Hancock Center, the Tribune Tower, the Wrigley Building, the Water Tower, and Marina City. I also found the Realtor Building, whose exterior served as Dr. Robert Hartley's office on The Bob Newhart Show. Below it is the Billy Goat Tavern, where I had a shitty "cheezborger." I also walked the lengths of the Magnificent Mile and Navy Pier, where there supposedly is a Bob Newhart statue. I couldn't find it, but I did find the Picasso sculpture. Whatever.

Sox-Royals tomorrow, weather permitting.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

Hello Indiana!

Today started with a frozen strawberry custard cone at Leon's (above), followed by a drive down through Chicago to the northwest corner of Indiana (if only to bring my states-I've-visited count to 36), then back to Chi-town, where I checked into the Howard Johnson. Then I spent hours walking around the city. I plan to have more words and photos to share tomorrow. In the meantime, here's another image from Milwaukee...

We hardly knew ye, Jim Dickinson.

Hello Wisconsin!

Right now I'm in Milwaukee, on what has sort of become my annual attend-baseball-games-in-places-I-haven't-been-before trip. After arriving at O'Hare yesterday, I hopped in my rental car and drove north to the Badger State, bringing my states-I've-visited count to 35. Right across the border is the community of Big Foot, where, along with the nearby town of Walworth, are several Big Foot attractions -- Big Foot Inn, Big Foot Car Wash, Big Foot Cemetery, Big Foot High School...

To my dismay, they all refer to a 19th-century Indian chief who once called the area home.

But wait!

Further up the road, near Lake Geneva, is Bigfoot Archers, where I read they use a full-size Bigfoot for target practice! When I got there he was locked in a storage shed (along with all these other full-size figures of lions, rabbits, zebras, etc.), but the guy who runs the place let me see him.

So here's Miller Park, home of the Milwaukee Brewers, the 25th stadium where I've attended a big-league ballgame (19 of which are still in use, the other six are defunct). Ballparks are often referred to as cathedrals, but this humongous stadium, with its giant glass-filled arches, fits the description far better than any other. Despite its location in a sea of parking lots and freeways (not to mention its meager beer selection -- they have any kind you'd want, so long as it's Miller), it's pretty fantastic. For the record, the Suds thumped the 'Stros, 11-2, and Guido won the Sausage Race.

Speaking of wieners, here's Superdawg, Chicago's kickass hot dog drive-in, where I had lunch yesterday. Today I'm headed back to the Windy City, where I plan to hit more such spots. And a couple more ballgames.