O'Hare International Airport, Chicago, IL

My Kind of Town

Today I came home to Chicago to see my parents.

Blue Line Division Street Station, Chicago, IL
Blue Line Division Street Station, Chicago, IL

Thursday, December 1, 2016

My day started early; at about 4:30 to be exact. I scheduled my United flight from LaGuardia at 7:00 am because I prefer to travel early, of course. I can also be oddly cheap (at times) so I opted to take the “NYC Airporter” to the airport. I rushed to reach 42nd street between 8th and 9th Avenues by 5am to arrive with no shuttles or buses to be found. It was a tad chilly and I was vaguely annoyed. I didn’t want to wait a half hour for a 5:30 am, shuttle. Happily, the shuttles arrived by 5:15 am and we were on our way.

Traveling Music: "Cherub Rock" by The Smashing Pumpkins
Traveling Music: “Cherub Rock” by The Smashing Pumpkins

The flight was short and pleasant. I arrived in Chicago quite early but wanted to make sure that I did the things I find important as soon as arriving. I took the Blue Line MTA train to the Clark/Division stop somI could visit one of my favorite remaining record stores, Dusty Groove on North Ashland street. The store wouldn’t open for a bit, so I searched for a place to relax and perhaps get a cup of coffee. I was re-introduced to the stark, gray industrial landscape of the Chicagoland area quite quickly. An interesting aspect of Chicago winters days is that the clouds hang very high in the sky and form a continuous canopy that renders the entire landscape in a suspended state of desaturation.

I had a warm coffee at a Starbucks in a Jewel/Osco grocery store and worked a bit on my journaling. I noted that the area was quite hip: There were a number of music stores and interesting clothing boutiques. I suppose that the real estate environment in Chicago still allows for independent businesses to survive, where only the most lucrative ventures can flourish in New York.

Dusty Groove Records, Chicago, IL
Dusty Groove Records, Chicago, IL
Dusty Groove Records, Chicago, IL
Dusty Groove Records, Chicago, IL

I checked out a couple of music stores and, of course, Dusty Groove, where I’m always assured to find a few compact disk nuggets, although CDs are horribly out of fashion, these days. I then took the train the remainder of the way into the city. I was determined to have some sort of Chicago “soul food” and remembered Sharks Fish & Chicken, where I once enjoyed a delicious plate of fried chicken livers. I took a bus to the location with which I was familiar, only to find that the ownership had changed and that chicken livers were no longer on the menu. The place was hazy from the vaporized oil and spices hanging in the air, a fact of which I’m rarely pleased, as my clothes then smell lime the fried offers. I ordered two pieces of catfish and three chicken wings with fries. I was pleased that the food was fresh, hot and tasty, accompanied by the standard two pieces of wonder bread. My appetite was only a bit soured when I noted two baby roaches scaling the wall next to my table, obviously drawn by the piping food on my table. I reasoned that my food, freshly seasoned and fried, as hot enough to kill any attendant germs the vermin might harbor.

Sharks Fish & Chicken, Chicago, IL
Sharks Fish & Chicken, Chicago, IL
Catfish & Wings at Sharks Fish & Chicken, Chicago, IL
Catfish & Wings at Sharks Fish & Chicken, Chicago, IL

After lunch, I finally went to the Langham Hotel, where I would meet my partner and later my Mother. The hotel is gorgeous if the security was a bit tight and suspicious as I entered. Of course, being in my drab travel clothes probably didn’t help. I relaxed, dressed and showered in the room and then headed back out to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. There was a Diana Thater exhibition which I had already viewed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, I suppose during the past Spring or Summer.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

In an uncanny coincidence, I happened to run into one of the faculty at Columbia with whom I’ve had two studio visits. The professor splits her time between my school and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. It was nice to see her, and she was very complimentary of my practice.

Diana Thater at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL
Diana Thater at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL

After the museum, I checked out a favorite store on Hubbard street and then went home to prepare to welcome my Mother to the hotel, so that we could enjoy a dinner with my partner. It took her Uber driver a good while to find the building, and there was a bit of confusion as the hotel was across from Trump Towers, which was subject to the protests of a group bitter about the election of Donal Trump as President. To that, I say: it’s too late.

Room at the Langham Hotel, Chicago, IL
Room at the Langham Hotel, Chicago, IL

Our dinner was at a unique and spacious restaurant in the West Loop. The servings were as expansive and generous as the size of the space. I noted to my mother that a noticeable difference between restaurants in New York and Those of Chicago is that the Chicago eateries have more real estate to work with. Our dinner was pleasant and lively and I took an Uber back to Olympia Fields with my Mom.

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