Sunday, July 17, 2011

Windy City Whirlwind Part II

(Wednesday, July 13th- Friday, July 15th)

The next three days of my Chicago romp, I made many discoveries.

The biggest:
You can’t go more than a block without running into an exhibit or live performance. From Michael Dinge’s scrimshaw engraved laptops on display at the Chicago Visitor Information Center,

(compliments of google images)

 to the chorus filling Millenium park with Defying Gravity from Wicked, and tunes from Mamma Mia, Phantom of the Opera and Rent during my insta-greeter tour—it’s EVERYWHERE.  

Creepy fountain with face projections that smile and then spit water at you. Chicago definitely has a sense of humor.

I caught the image posted above on Wednesday afternoon during a one hour tour of Millenium Park through Chicago Greeter, a program that offers free guided tours of Chicago.  
Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (aka: The Bean).  Back of Bean. At the corner of the park.

Front of the Bean.

Mid-Bean. What do you mean this isn't an original camera angle?

Millenium Park.
I discovered:
Chicago is a city that doesn’t shy from letting you in on the loop. Info  is everywhere.

I stumbled into this model on the way to the restroom following a lunch date with a friend I hadn’t seen in five years. Apparently the Chicago Architecture Foundation is right next to the Corner Bakery that's across from Millenium Park.

By the way, “The Loop,” is actually a district in Chicago around where the subway lines run parallel.

I also discovered that the first and second Wednesday of each month is free day at the Art Institute Museum (the really famous one featured on Ferris Bueller’s day off).

Some of my favorite exhibits at the museum:

American Mugshot.
Not my most attractive picture, but probably wasn’t theirs’ either. (please please please don’t let this go to google images)


Charles, my new megabus friend, in a recreated version of the original Chicago Stock Exchange.

Hyper-link exhibit (my dream home)

Their paperweight wing. (<--It actually exists.)

If you’re visiting Chicago on a budget and want to be crafty about it, this site has all the free museum dates.

On Thursday, I discovered even more about Chicago via speed-boat through the Seadog’s 75 minute architecture tour of the city guided by Jake (Phil’s roommate who was able to get us comp tickets).

(compliments of google images)

The architect probably didn't intend for this building to look like corn cobs when he designed it..

Phil and Meg on our action packed tour. Two comedians with brilliant rapport. Hanging out with them is like an ongoing live sketch comedy act.

After our speed-boat tour, Phil and Meg made sure I saw an entirely different side of the city. They took me to the Billy Goat Tavern.

Made famous by SNL:

Before I even glanced at the menu, the guy behind the counter insisted, “Double-cheeseburger! I order you a double-cheeseburger.”  Me: “Wait, but--” “It’s okay. Double-cheeseburger!”
Fortunately, I was hungry.

Other discoveries:

*Chicago is the site of the world’s first ferris wheel:

This is not the original designed by George Washington Ferris that debuted at the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago. The one at Navy Pier, stands in its honor.  The original was melted down into a bridge that now sits in Pittsburgh. Maybe I’ll get to walk over it on Monday.

(compliments of google images)
*The Hancock Center (6th tallest building in America). The X-bracing on its exterior is actually an essential part of its support structure. The entire building is known to sway up to an entire foot in the wind.

*Chicago is a city filled with clever bookstores:

*And the Lincoln Park Zoo (Chicago's free zoo) is, bizarrely, guarded by playwrights:


Why is the Chicago zoo guarded by dramatists? And where’s Albee?

That’s me with Dusty Wilson (founder of Official Playwrights of Facebook) in the pic above. We’ve both been admins of the group since 2005. Best way to meet somebody in person for the first time: watching monkeys scratch their butts at the zoo.

These guys have the right idea.

Special exhibit in the monkey house: homosapien

While in Chicago, I also got my theater fill:
In addition to the devised piece I caught at Lookinglass on Tuesday, I saw:

Wednesday night:
Jesus Camp the Musical at a storefront theater.

Thursday night:
Middletown by Will Eno at Steppenwolf, which I had the good fortune of ushering for Thursday evening.

(compliments of google images)
Friday night:
David Henry Hwang’s play Chinglish at the Goodman (also through ushering). Chinglish is set to open on Broadway after it closes in Chicago on July 24th.

NYC has always been a top contender for where I’ll end up in 2013, but with the hundreds of theaters, the sense of artist camaraderie and the affordable rent, Chicago seems more and more alluring. This  was certainly a motivating factor in me booking four full days.

Next stop:

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