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Adventures in the New Year

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Happy New Year! Happy new year wishes to everyone, from me to you.  Have you recovered from your New Year’s Eve revelry yet?  Yes?

Excellent! We are hardy adventurers, and the whole year lays before us, so let’s get started, shall we?

Today, Saturday January 4th, will you join us downtown?  We’ll go ice skating at the Skating Ribbon, that imaginatively designed double loop in Maggie Daley Park, 337 E Randolph St., where the skating is free, and skate rental is only $15.00 if you need them.  I’m not afraid to tell you that I am anything but an accomplished, or even barely functional, ice skater, but there’s no fun in not trying.  If someone slips on the ice, the rest of us will help him (most likely me) up; we’ll laugh and try some more. Come on, it will be a riot of fun! We plan to get started about 2pm, that works for you, yes?  See you then, so be ready!

Join us today, Sunday January 5th, for some cross country skiing, out south on the Sagawau Trail.  The trail head is the Sagawau Nordic Center, 12545 West 111th St., Lemont, IL where we can rent skis and boots, and get a refresher lesson before heading out.  There are miles of smooth, nicely groomed trails, and the cold fresh air is refreshing, isn’t it?  Stretching our legs while smoothly gliding through the quiet forest is a good way to get into a calmer state of mind, ready to take on the week ahead. Keep our eyes sharp, perhaps we’ll see a few winter birds or maybe a rabbit or fox.

Did you remember that January is when Buddy Guy, the Blues legend himself, plays live on stage at his place, Legends?  There are no reserved seats, but the show tonight, Friday, January 10th, starts at 9:00pm, and by then it will be impossible to get in the door.  So let’s meet there for a casual, soul food/cajun style dinner, say about 7pm, so we can get a table and drinks settle in, soak up the blues atmosphere, and be ready when the show starts.  This is fabulous, isn’t it?  It’s really Buddy Guy up there! Just listen to these younger performers on stage with him.  Aren’t they great? Buddy Guy’s Legends, 700 S. Wabash Ave., Chicago, https://buddyguy.com.

That was a great show, wasn’t it?  But it’s getting late, and we have a long commute home, so we’ll part for now and see you again on Sunday?  Drive safely!


Did you tell us you’ve never been to Fitzgerald’s Night Club, 6615 Roosevelt Rd, Berwyn, IL? It’s time to fix that. Especially since today, Sunday, January 12th,  is their annual Chili Cook Off, where we can sample the fare from all over Chicago and vote for the best ones in town. It’s very kid friendly, and over about 5pm, so there’s plenty of time to get everyone home and ready for Monday. Get your tickets in advance, knowing that all proceeds go to benefit Opportunity Knocks, a local charity that helps individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

I love chili, don’t you?  I wonder who’s winning? This is so much fun, maybe next year I’ll cook up a good batch and enter, what do you think?

We just learned about  Revival Food Hall, https://www.revivalfoodhall.com/, 125 S. Clark St., Chicago, and really want to give the place a visit.  So after work this Friday, January 17th, we will do some exploring inside the first floor of this big building that houses about 20 different “fast-casual food stalls” with many neighborhood favorites and a selection of “new concept” eateries.  I’m not familiar with all of them, but I’m hungry and the barbecue sandwiches from Smoque are always delicious.  Of course, I’m also really tempted by the offerings at Danke, especially their “Secret Sandwich” (no, I won’t tell you the secret); it’s a tough decision. Now over to the HotChocolate Bakery for dessert, yum.  After this, let’s stop into Curbside Books & Records, right over here, see? They are an independent press as well as a book and record store, isn’t that cool?

Look at these unusual titles, and the interesting styles of writing, holy cow! We can sit and read while dinner settles.  How many books are you buying?  Nice!  We’ll meet again on Sunday?

Today, Sunday, January 19th, let’s visit The Auditorium Theater, https://www.auditoriumtheatre.org50 E Ida B Wells Dr., Chicago, for  Too Hot To Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah, We are so excited to finally hear this live on stage.  The show is starts at 3pm, we can meet a bit beforehand.  I’ve only heard excerpts and short bits on the radio before and I’m thrilled that we’ll be attending. Their website says it better than I can, so here, this is what to expect:

This “exuberant, jazz-gospel makeover” (Chicago Tribune) of Handel’s classic Messiah celebrates 15 years in Chicago! Join us on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend to witness the transformational powers of the performing arts and uplift King’s vision of a “beloved community.” With fiery soloists Rodrick Dixon, Alfreda Burke, and Karen Marie Richardson; an orchestra, jazz combo, and 100-person choir under the baton of Suzanne Mallare Acton; and spirited Detroit pianist Alvin Waddles, famous for his jaw-dropping cadenzas, Too Hot is an annual Chicago tradition that fills your soul and spirit.

This, my friends, is a worthy tribute to Dr. King’s legacy, as well as an exciting way to introduce some of the young people in our families to an appreciation of jazz, gospel, and classical baroque music in a way that is uplifting and approachable.  Join us, please?

While most of us are back at work today, Monday, January 20th, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, is a national holiday. Let us take a few moments to remember the many sacrifices, including the ultimate one, that he made to help make America a better place for everyone. We can all become better people, better citizens, if we pay a little attention to his teachings. We’ll see you this weekend.

Today, Saturday, January 25th, let’s meet for an early dinner, shall we?  Some low key, neighborhood place where we can complain about work and brag about the kids. (Or did I get that backwards?) We’ll talk and catch up and make plans, like we always do.  Where? Hmm, how about Podhalanka, https://www.podhalankachicago.com? It’s a little Polish restaurant at 1549 W. Division St.; my Polish friends tell me the food is genuine, tasty,  homemade and affordable.  Dinner comes with both soup and salad; I’m thinking about the Zurek, a sour borscht, for starters. Would you like to try the Krupnik (barley soup)? What main courses will we share? Zrazy Wieprzowe Zawijane, (rolled, stuffed pork) sounds delicious, doesn’t it? Of course on a cold winter night like this perhaps the classic beef stew, Gulasz Wolowy, is what will be just right. In any case, it’s all delicious, exactly what we need, this evening, yes?

After dinner, we’ll head just a few doors east to the Chopin Theater, 1543 W. Division St., https://www.chopintheatre.com/ and catch Verboten, a musical written and performed by the former members of a punk rock band of the same name.  Verboten describes, with music, humor, and wit, how a band of teenagers gear up for their first big gig while trying to keep their parents from seriously interfering with their “self-made punk rock family”.  We’re looking forward to what should be a lighthearted, and rather loud, evening of fun, and we’re so glad you could join us.

Isn’t this just a different experience? Yeah, it’s loud, but fun, and rather dramatic, as befits a group of teenagers.  Are your ears ringing too? Time to rest up and sleep in, I think, so we’ll see you next week?

Do you believe it’s Saturday, February 1st already? This has been an exciting month, and now winter is almost half over! While we really wish spring were here, it’s not, but we can pretend with a visit to Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave., https://garfieldconservatory.org/, for no reason except to wander the beautiful landscapes under glass, enjoy the beauty and warmth within these spaces, read up a bit about any display that catches our attention, and relax.  Can we meet about noon?

There are six interior spaces, do you believe it?  My overall favorite is the Fern Room, designed by Jens Jenson, the original architect, to convey how Illinois looked millions of years ago, but each one is beautiful, making us more aware of the whole world that gives us life. Don’t you love coming here? It’s always so calm and peaceful.  Thank you so much for joining us.

Until next month, dear readers, keep adventuring!