Day 3 – Chicago

August 14, 2006 at 8:10 am (present, the fam)

First, a random observation.

Reason #549 why I’m not yet ready to have children:

“Do you have to go pee pee or poopy?” is not yet a reasonable question to ask anyone. Ever.

The time on the bridge, the teenage dickwad customs agent, traffic getting into and through Chicago and 5 straight days of less than 7 hours sleep finally got to us and we went to sleep bickering. Thankfully, that rule about never going to bed angry doesn’t apply to fathers and daughters. When the alarm went off this morning, we agreed to ignore it and sleep in until 10.

A woman on the L dropped her wallet and twenties and credit cards went flying. The 5 people closest to her stooped down to help without a moment’s hesitation and we all put out a hand when the train’s movement knocked her off-balance. I can only guess that the reaction on the T would have been slightly different. Chicagoans are the second nicest people on the planet.

Our day consisted of a walk through the new Millennium Park – a green space any city should be jealous of – and a few hours in the Art Institute. I was thrilled to find a David Smith in their courtyard, along with a spectacularly vertical Henry Moore and a nice-if-you-like-that-sort-of-thing Calder. Found a few label typos. Thought mounting the Chinese jades on raw silk in a neutral color was brilliant, modern and effective. Hated their installation of the Joseph Cornell boxes – a small computer kiosk could have solved the inherent display dilemma presented by these kinetic objects. Loved the Harry Callahan exhibition and found inspiration in his tree and weed photos. Wished the Jean Arp sculpture wasn’t in a case and wanted to run through the halls trying to find a conservator to dust the Brancusi. I considered a comment card, but I thought that list would seem a touch obnoxious.

Certainly I was there for the art, but I couldn’t help noticing that the average Art Institute visitor was rocking serious style. All ages and both sexes seemed to have really thought about it. I was impressed.

Lunch in the outdoor cafe consisted of chilled cucumber soup with gold tomatoes and meyer lemon relish and a strange, yet delightfully light construction of raw ahi tuna, watermelon, shiso, tobiko caviar and an almost sweet yuzo foam. It was odd yet delicious in the way of TK’s watermelon, feta and red onion salad.

Presented with an opportunity to experience the river while getting an architectural tour of the city, we jumped on board (sorry, too late to avoid bad puns). The volunteer guide was incredibly knowledgeable and the tour convinced me that I’ll need to come back to Chicago to take the walking land version. If you have a spare $1.6 million, I can recommend a lovely townhouse right along the north branch of the river. If, like me, your disposable income is a touch above nothing, I strongly recommend the boat tour.

In conclusion, I’m glad I might have a reason to get back to Chicago in the next year. It’s a city I could love…in the summer.

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