Thursday, September 10, 2009

Chicago Scenes

There are flowers all over this city. They adorn tree lawns and entrances to condominiums, sure. But they also line the median strips, nestle next to bus stops, drape over random containers, and hang from baskets on the overpasses. Urbs in Horto....... City in a Garden .... it's nice to find a municipality which is taking its motto seriously.

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Striding out on the lakefront with the Little Cuter and SIR and thousands of others enjoying the sunshine and the breeze, we spent a perfect Saturday afternoon. Found a bench at Fullerton Beach and watched the world go by. The Theatre on the Lake was closed for the season, but a cafe has sprung up on its northeasterly flank. On the patio (which we'd only remembered as a storage area for the theatre's extra folding chairs) was a sound system and a jazz band surrounded by be-bopping fans. Our bench was a perfect perch, not too close, not too far, just comfy enough to rest our weary selves and revel in the ease of it all.

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The Jay Pritzker Pavilion needs more eloquent and educated explication than I can offer. It's wood and metal and rods and rhomboids and curves and perfect sight lines from the chairs and the lawn. The seating is comfortable and the concert was free and serendipitous; we were wandering before dressing for the wedding and fell into an hour of Motown inspired musical bliss. The singer was young and black and the musicians were older and white and the audience was every shade of the rainbow and everyone was dancin' : the 7 year old boys, each trying to sit right in front of the other, competing all the way from Rows TT to Y until they just couldn't stand it any more and began to boogie; the grandfather conducting, using his lap-sitting 4 year old granddaughter's legs as his batons; the (obviously) family and friends of the band, on their feet and moving in the first 2 rows. And there's a show every day at noon until the end of September.

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Did you know that the Chicago River flows "the wrong way"? Did you know that there are locks governing the exchange of fluids between the River and Lake Michigan? It's true, and here are the photos to prove it:

The boats go into the lock:

The lock is closed and the water level changes:

and then the lock opens and they are free:

(I took these pictures and the two below from our room in the Swissotel on East Wacker. Thank you, Mr. Hawkins, for an absolutely lovely weekend.)

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Navy Pier used to be for the Navy. Now it's for families and water taxis and tour boats and Shakespeare and a ferris wheel and a hot air balloon. The grounds are manicured and there's self-parking in the garage . Different than it used to be, that's for sure. Hearing music at the end of the pier involved walking along the frigid lakeshore from an open air lot on the edge of a really scary undeveloped part of the city. The venue was fabulous and accessible and felt very Chicago. The transitions were uncomfortable. Now, exactly the opposite, it, like Pier 39 in San Francisco, is a place tourists flock and locals avoid. Why they moved the Children's Museum there was and remains a mystery to me.

Still, it was pretty cool at night:

Thank you all for looking at my vacation photos .....

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