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Freedom, Independence and Fun; Chicago in July

July 2019

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Oh, goodness, gracious, it’s Independence Day!  It’s time to remember the thoughtful, imaginative, courageous men who gathered in sweltering heat and stifling humidity to argue, debate, resolve, and finally declare the independence of the American colonies from mother England.  That was no small feat, ladies and gentlemen.  The notion that one could “hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal” was certainly NOT self-evident to a hereditary King who ruled by Divine Right. 

 We often forget that the British Crown and it’s government was by no means ready to accept the idea that the colonies could simply “dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them”.  In the view of the Crown “Nature’s God” certainly did not ever “entitle them” to make such a break by means of a simple declaration! The resulting War lasted from 1776 until the Peace of Paris was signed in 1783, and much of then became The United States was devastated in that war.  Today we celebrate the intelligence, fortitude and dedication of the men and women who created this country.


Let’s start the celebration early, then, shall we?  Thursday, July 4th, Odyssey Lines has a Lake Michigan Independence Day skyline lunch cruise that lasts 2 hours, includes a full, three course, gourmet lunch, on-board DJ and even dancing!  Let’s go!  Plan on 4 hours, actually, since boarding starts at 12:15, and getting off will also take more than a few minutes, but really, who cares?  This is so much fun, and the views are, of course spectacular!  https://www.odysseycruises.com/chicago/cruises/lunch/lake-michigan.

Saturday, July 6th we are returning to the Big Top at Soldier Field to catch one of the final performances of the amazing, captivating, uplifting, unbelievable and outrageously incredible “Volta” by Cirque du Soleil. This will be your last chance, so if you’ve missed it so far, grab tickets and go see this.  Everything about the Volta show is fantastic.  Acrobats, jugglers, gymnasts, musicians, dancers, singers and cyclists will keep you enthralled the whole time.  The gymnasts on the trampolines, especially, will take your breath away as they jump and vault three stories up.  The finale brings a full blown BMX track onstage, with the stunt racers jumping and twirling and springing their bikes off of clear window-walls in an acrobatic display of precision, coordination, energy and outrageous fun performed “in a spirit of brotherhood”. You will be, and stay, amazed.

Volta: A Journey of Self Discovery,  is simply stunning.  GO. Grand Chapiteau – Soldier Field 1410 Museum Campus Dr. https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/usa/chicago/shows .

Hamilton: The Exhibition, is showing on Northerly Island, and this Saturday, July 13th, we’ll be out there, taking in the life and times of this remarkable, inspiring man.  Lin-Manuel Miranda, the musical’s author, narrates a 360 degree immersive tour of his life. Hamilton: The Exhibition promises to take us deep into the life and times of this Founding Father, the American Revolution and the creation of the United States of America. “Through a dynamic and interactive mix of lighting, sound, multimedia, music and historical artifacts, you’ll experience how it felt to write the way Hamilton wrote, fight the way Hamilton fought, and live the way Hamilton lived.” Which, especially in these times, is a very serious question to ask, and for us to answer.

1535 S. Linn White Drive, https://hamiltonexhibition.com/

The Oriental Institute is not just a museum, but is a working research laboratory at the University of Chicago. Known as some of the premiere archaeologists of ancient Near Eastern civilizations, the objects on display were primarily uncovered during expeditions in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s. The Oriental Institute, 1155 E 58th St  https://oi.uchicago.edu/. With credentials like that the Institute is worth a visit, and today, July 14th, please meet us there for a long visit, as we learn, from these many archeological objects, of the people and cultures of this ancient part of the world.  It’s open from 10am until 5pm, and we’ll be there early!

It’s Wednesday, July 17th, and we certainly deserve an evening out.  So let’s all meet for a quick dinner after work before heading to “Jazzin at the Shedd” at the Shedd Aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive,   https://www.sheddaquarium.org/Jazzin/ where we’ll get listen to three, yes three different jazz ensembles, have a drink or two on the terrace overlooking Lake Michigan and downtown Chicago and it’s magnificent skyline.  After a time we can check out the marine life inside, wondering how the extraordinarily colorful Mantis shrimp evolved to see ultraviolet light, or how a sea otter manages to consume 25% of its body weight daily just to stay active and healthy.  Perhaps we’ll get to see the Beluga whales!

This is a must-see event, dear readers.  On Sunday July 21st, the Chicago Cultural Center’s Crossing Borders program is presenting Pages intimes; A Concert of Haitian Piano Music, and we simply MUST attend.  As the program tells us: “Hear music lost for over a century, and a world premiere performance, in this ground-breaking program of Haitian piano music by Crossing Borders Music pianist Marianne Parker! The program’s namesake composition is the finely crafted, intensely emotional Pages intimes by composer Edmond Saintonge. The recent work of scholars rediscovering and recreating Saintonge’s scores makes this performance possible, bringing to life Saintonge’s music for the first time in over a century. Haitian composer Ludovic Lamothe, known as “Black Chopin,” infused lively Haitian méringue dance rhythms into his Quatre Danses (Four Dances). This concert includes the world premiere of Arôme musical (Musical Fragrance) by Haitian-Canadian composer Gifrants!”

Lively music, world premiere, pieces lost for over a century that have finally been rediscovered, all presented by a truly world-class pianist, and we get all this for FREE.  Meet us there, please, about 1:30pm, before the show starts at 2pm. Chicago Cultural Center, Preston Bradley Hall, 78 E. Washington St. https://www.chicago.gov/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/crossing_borders.html.

I have just declared Saturday, July 27th, to be our first annual “Active All Day”. Do you like it? This morning we’re looking forward to meeting you at the Millennium Park Summer Workouts, 7–11am, on the Great Lawn. YES, we are going to do the whole 4 hours.  Actually, I’ve never done Tai Chi, and it’s been years since I’ve been to a real Yoga class, so I’m very much looking forward to this day.

Afterwards, we’ll grab a quick bite from a Park vendor as we bike south along the beautiful Lake Front Trail, past Buckingham Fountain, through the Museum Campus, along McCormick Place, and through the Burnham Wilderness Corridor down to 35th street for some spectacular views of Chicago from the new bridge that would take us over Lake Shore Drive and out into Bronzeville, if we’re so inclined. It sounds like a long trip, doesn’t it?  It’s not; from Millennium Park to 35th Street is less than an hour each way, even at the very casual “sightseeing speed” at which we’ll be pedaling.  Keep your eyes open the whole way, as you will see beauty and nature up much closer than you ever expected in the heart of one of America’s largest cities.

We’ll see you tomorrow, right?

Sunday, July 28th, is the perfect day for a picnic at that nearly hidden oasis, the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, just west of Lake Shore Drive and north of the Lincoln Park Conservatory.  I haven’t been here in ages, and so may need help actually finding it; it really is nicely tucked away from the bustle of Fullerton and Clark Streets, and Lake Shore Drive. It dates from Victorian times, fell into neglect for decades, until Landscape architect Alfred Caldwell was hired by the Works Progress Administration to repair and improve the pond. We’ll find the wooden gate off of Fullerton Avenue, and discover the  excellent work he did in this effort.

Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool, 125 W Fullerton Pkwy

People participate in the the Summerlin Council Patriotic Parade in Las Vegas, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Patrick Connolly/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP)

This will be the perfect end to a wonderfully busy month.  We can chat and converse, catch up on the details of our lives, tell stories and jokes, but mostly just enjoy our picnic meal together as friends. 

Until next month, dear readers and friends, stay happy, healthy and adventurous!