Monday, April 19, 2004

Chicago, Vol. 2

On Saturday, we had a small block of time before the wedding, so Chris and I collected the parents and rushed them through breakfast. Come on, there's stuff to do. We took one of the architectural boat tours along the Chicago River that snakes through the city. Quite an excellent day for a boat ride and a civilized way to take in the sights.

The Architectural Foundation of Chicago has several great tours. Did the three hour walking tour several times before. After the Great Fire of 1871 wiped out most of the downtown, the best, most innovative architects of the time came there to build the first skyscrapers. Since then, it has been a location of great architecture with works by Mies van der Rohe and others.

The tour guide pointed out the vast new developments rising along the side of the river. Chicago is becoming a city where people live again.

My dad grew up in Chicago on 73rd Street in a row house with three siblings, two grandparents and one mother who supported them all by working in a department store. He said that as a kid, he could smell the scents of the stockyards when the wind came just right. And the steel mills belted out fine particles of black grit. Chicago was dirty and smelly but humming with factories just around the corner from the row houses with their porches and front yards.

Dad marveled at the cleaned up, yuppie city of his youth. He said, a city is supposed to be about industry. But the industry has moved to Mexico and Guatamala and been replaced by high priced condos with river views. But it’s hard to be nostalgic over the strong, sweet smells from the stockyard, so he felt, in the end, that the new city wasn’t so bad.

Got a cheeseburger at the Billy Goat Tavern which is below the Tribune building. I went there years ago with my Uncle Bob drinking Old Milwaukee and getting family history. The Billy Goat Tavern is a dive with a large homage to Mike Royko and a favorite of cops and reporters. It’s a bit touristy, because of a Belushi SNL skit, which poked fun at the owner, but it’s still good.

We ran back to the hotel and cleaned up for the wedding. When we entered the church, the usher asked us if we were with the bride or the groom. On the bride’s side of the church were good solid German-Swedish Midwestern farmers. They were blond and cheerful and broad shouldered. On the groom’s side were the Irish. Morose, sarcastic, laconic, under achieving, with a genetic predisposition for alcoholism and mental illness and depression. Bride or groom? I thought it should be fairly obvious.

Read This
From the Legal Underground, a post about a recent study of young chimps. Scientists foung that girl chimps have a longer attention span than boy chimps who just wanted to climb trees and play around. I bet the girl chimps didn't call their parents, Mr. Stinky, either. (Thanks, David)

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