Tag Archives: Chicago

Run, don’t walk!

Illuminations
Illuminations at Morton Arboretum

In early December, Bro was in town for his second annual holiday visit. Just like last year, we visited multiple Chicago tourist venues.

There were a couple I especially want to mention ASAP, because if you don’t get to them by January 4, you will have missed your chance.

1968
at the Chicago History Museum

1968_LRweb
Recreation of a 1968 living room*

I wanted to see the limited-run 1968 exhibit ever since I found out it was happening. We finally made it there in early December. Wasn’t sure what to expect. There would definitely be something about the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and probably about the protests that marked the year in general.

1968_WelcomeDemocrats
DNC welcome sign*

I figured I’d like it. I liked it about three times more than I expected to—maybe ten times more. If you lived through the era, or even if you have an interest in it, you will not be disappointed. It was a total immersion in the politics, music, decor, pop culture—everything you could think of that would saturate you in the era. The exhibit went month by month through a turbulent year and brought it to life via photos, a military helicopter, films, broadcasts, recordings, clothing, furniture, housewares, and other objects.

1968_Fashionweb
1968 fashion*

Loved, loved, loved it.  I desperately want to get back before it’s over. If you have even a mild interest, and can get there by January 4, do it. DO IT!

David Bowie Is
at the Museum of Contemporary Art

b21261aladdinsane-cropped-975x731
Album cover shoot for Aladdin Sane, 1973
Design: Brian Duffy and Celia Philo; make up: Pierre La Roche
Photo: Brian Duffy
Photo: Duffy © Duffy Archive and the David Bowie Archive

This special exhibition, a retrospective of David Bowie’s amazing career runs from September 23, 2014–January 4, 2015. I was not a huge fan of Davie Bowie before this exhibit, but I just may be now. I was amazed at the range of his talent. What struck me most about him as an artist is the combination of his fearlessness and his hard work.

The show includes 60 costumes, storyboards, handwritten set lists and lyrics, and some of Bowie’s own sketches, musical scores, and diary entries. Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art is the only planned U.S. venue for the exhibition, which was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

More Holiday Fun

We enjoyed several other time-sensitive events, like the Holiday Express at Chicago Botanic Garden and Illuminations at the Morton Arboretum and the Neapolitan Creche and Holiday-decorated Thorne Rooms at the Art Institute. However, those are annual holiday traditions, so they’ll be around next year if you miss them this year.

If you have only limited time, get to David Bowie Is or 1968 first.

Next post will be about one of the best Chicago tourist days in recorded history. Bro gave it a grade of 98%.

*Photos by Bro
Advertisements

Million Dollar Quartet

Image
Apollo Theater in Chicago

This is my last Bro-related post for a while. Bro and Bride went back to Houston a few weeks ago, but we did take one more fun excursion—not previously shared in this space—while they were in town.

Bride said that at some point during their visit, she’d love to see some theatre. A lot of times when people say that, they mean they want to see one of the big touring shows. This can be an occasion for eye-rolling from a host who lives in the area and knows that Chicago’s local theatre is awesome. However, Bride knows there are plenty of worthy shows all over Chicago, and she was happy to see something homegrown.

Left to my own devices, I might opt for an original play, something on the experimental side, like In the Garden: A Darwinian Love Story at Lookingglass Theatre, but we needed to pick something everyone would like. We hoped to get into the Second City revue, but you can’t exactly do that at the last minute.

Luckily, we ended up finding tickets to Million Dollar Quartet at the Apollo Theatre. The Apollo is a fun little theatre. They’ve previously produced other shows along the same lines as Million Dollar Quartet, by which I mean musicals based on actual performers/events, which feature their big hits as kind of a backbone to the proceedings. Sis and I saw Always Patsy Cline there some years back. On that occasion, and before we even got into the performance space, we discovered that they served Schlitz beer, a brand we hadn’t seen in years. The reason they were serving it became clear very shortly into the performance, when we saw the actress playing Patsy knocking them back.

Yep. At the Apollo, they encourage you to bring your drinks into the theatre. Once Bro discovered this, he was totally on board with the entire concept. Other than a pretty relaxed theatrical experience, though, we weren’t sure exactly what we were letting ourselves in for. The good news is, it was a lot of fun: a tight show that clocked in around 90 minutes, with no intermission. So you’d be all right attending in the middle of the week, even if you live in the suburbs, because you still won’t be up too late.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the show, Million Dollar Quartet is based on an actual event—the night of December 4, 1956. Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Elvis Presley were all at Sun Records together, and magic happened. It’s a great excuse to hear some fun music, like Who Do You Love, Sixteen Tons, Hound Dog, Whole Lotta Shaking…I could go on and on. The actor/musicians blew me away, especially Lance Lipinsky as Jerry Lee Lewis and Shaun Whitley as Carl Perkins. But really, the show was about a pivotal night in the life of Sam Phillips, the founder of Sun Records. He was an artist in his own right, or at least a muse, and people just don’t remember him in the same way that they remember the names of the guys in the quartet. Anyone who’s ever tried to express something new artistically could relate to Sam Phillips’ struggles. That’s what spoke to me most about Million Dollar Quartet. It had something for everyone, or at least something for everyone in our group: fun, drinks, music and a thought-provoking, character-driven story line.

 

Holiday Entertaining – Tea at the Drake

Image
The Drake Hotel in warmer weather

There was much Chicago over the weekend for this humble suburbanite. I wish I were better about experiencing all the wonder of living near a good-sized city. I got a ten-ride pass on Metra over a month ago so that I’d get downtown more often. I have yet to use it. Maybe that’s one of my New Year’s resolutions, or would be if I made them: use the Metra pass.

However, when you have out-of-town guests, you need to entertain them. One way we entertained ours was by taking them to tea at the Palm Court of the Drake Hotel. It was quite a crush, *she said, fanning herself.*

Image
The Palm Court – decidedly civilized

Well, of course it wasn’t a crush. You can’t have tea, and have a crush at the same time, it just wouldn’t be civilized. There were more people there than I’d seen before, but I understand that’s usual during the holidays. It was lovely. There was a harpist. There were probably over twenty different choices of tea, although I didn’t count them; you could also get hot cocoa, which may come in handy if you’re bringing any young princesses or princes with you. For the reprobate in the family, mimosas, bellinis, and tea cocktails were on offer, though we didn’t try those. There were finger sandwiches and cranberry orange scones with Devonshire cream, strawberry jam, and lemon curd. There were ginger madeleines, pumpkin cream puffs baked in the shapes of swans, assorted macarons, and opera cake. In all, there was a grand excess.

A charming young woman with an enormous camera went around to all the tables to take the patrons’ pictures. I don’t usually buy that sort of picture afterwards. Someone is usually blinking or slouching or otherwise embarrassed by their appearance. However, no one in our party had any objections, so I went ahead and bought our picture. Here it is:

DrakeTea122913_web
Standing, L to R: Kat, Liz & Lori. Seated: me, Danny

Don’t we clean up nicely? The whole experience was surprisingly low-stress. Here’s a tip from me to you: if you drive, go ahead and opt for valet parking. With validation, three hours (or less) was only fourteen dollars (not including tip), which seemed good for Chicago parking. The nicest part was not worrying about finding a nearby space on a cold day.

Actually, no. The nicest part was being together for a lovely tea.