Your Chicago Correspondent
Happy New Year, my dear readers and friends. Let’s hope this new one stays on ever improving ground as we get boosted, stay masked and cautious, put away the Christmas decorations and pave the way to more fun and adventure. As a note: your Correspondent spent the end of last year with a “breakthrough infection” that took almost a full month for recovery. These infections are not to be taken lightly, so when in public, please let’s still maintain basic social safety.
That said, perhaps a few hours of cold fresh air spent while ice skating will clean out some passages and get us appreciating the wonders of nature, so off we go! Today, Saturday, January 8th, let’s meet at the Maggie Daley Skating Ribbon, 337 E Randolph St, at 11:00am, where we’ll check in, rent our skates, and do our best to look like we actually know how to do this. It will be fun, come on. Look at the way the figure-8 ribbon resembles an infinity symbol. This year the decorations are all different, too. The park district is collaborating with “Immersive Van Gogh” to bring us images from “Starry Night” and “Sunflowers”, arguably his most famous and emotionally stirring works.
Well, it’s almost 1:00pm, when our allotted time is up, so let’s head back inside, trade our skates back for real shoes, and sip some cider or hot chocolate before we leave. A casual walk through Millennium Park will get us back to Michigan Ave., then a few more blocks to Dearborn and the Blue Line “L” station that will lead us back home. It’s been great to see you. Be ready for tomorrow!
Yes, be ready for today, Sunday, January 9th; it really is time to visit the Germania Club Building, 1536 N. Clark St., for the Immersive Van Gough exhibit, https://www.vangoghchicago.com/, one last time. With reservations for 3:00pm, we’ll have time to gather before hand, chat and gab a bit, and still be there early. Yes, we’ve been here before, we don’t usually revisit events, but this is just so visually stunning and emotionally powerful that we are treating ourselves again before its scheduled close next month. Here we are truly immersed in the mind, heart, and (dare I say it?) soul of a painter who wrote “I dream my paintings, and then I paint my dreams”. Look around, the visions are unfolding everywhere, in constant flux and motion that captures the spirit of a man who paints his dreams. Watch as “The Potato Eaters” takes shape on one wall, then look at the vision of the train actually traveling across in the background of the farm and garden scenes in the fore. “Bedroom at Arles” seems particularly intriguing, doesn’t it?
This exhibition is huge; four rooms and 35-foot tall walls, with projections that use it all and the ceilings too. Taking it in from all these different perspectives is taking a tremendous effort, don’t you agree? We’re finding it emotionally quite draining in ways we never expected. WOW!
Do you believe that only took about forty minutes? We’re exhausted! That means hungry, so let’s walk the two blocks to Gussie’s Handmade Italian, https://www.gussiesitalian.com/, 227 W. North Avenue, where we can find a table, order some wine, and enjoy some different delicacies than our usual Italian choices. I’m in the mood for some Bar Harbor Mussels; cooked in White Wine, Lemon, Butter, and Garlic they sound irresistibly good. For you? Yes, I think the Sweet Pepper Bruschetta sounds like a great choice.
I’m having Spaghetti Carbonara, cooked quite a bit differently than recipes we’ve tried before. Here it’s cooked with crispy Guanciale, egg yolks, Pecorino Romano cheese and a touch of black pepper. Yes, it’s that good, and of course we can share everything. What are meals with friends for if not for sharing? This has been great day, have a great night and travel safely.
Let’s do something completely different, shall we? Today, Saturday, January 15th, let’s check out the Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access. https://princessdianaexhibit.com/chicago/. It’s in the Oakbrook Center Mall, 19 Oakbrook Center, in Oak Brook, of course, and apparently it’s educational, informative, and offers insight into her life and death that is far, far removed from the garbage that’s constantly rehashed in the tabloids. Diana is getting a lot of airplay these days, with a Broadway show called “Diana: The Musical”, a Netflix series called “The Crown” and a different new movie, “Spencer”, starring Kristen Stewart. She’s been gone more than 20 years, yet it seems that America’s fascination has never abated a bit, only grown stronger.
So if you’re among the many who always want to learn more, here’s yet another way to learn about the life of the iconic princess. Described as a “walk-through documentary”, this exhibition of images and stories chronicles all of Diana’s royal life, and continues on with coverage of her sons and their wives. “Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access” showcases photographs from royal photographer Anwar Hussein and his two sons, Zak and Samir—who collectively spent more than four decades photographing Diana and her family—alongside art, murals, artifacts and rarely-told stories from the Hussein family that provide behind-the-scenes context to the photos. The exhibition is broken up into eight themed sections with topics ranging from “glam” to “unguarded,” aiming to capture a comprehensive look at Diana’s life. Along the way, art installations from multimedia artist Pauline Loctin depict interpretations of Diana’s most famous moments.” Tickets have been available for a while, let’s get ours booked early. The tour takes about 90 minutes, so there’s quite a lot to take in. This should be fun, don’t you think? Will it satisfy your all-things-Diana cravings for a while?
While tomorrow is actually Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, today, Sunday, January 16th, is the day we’re going to catch the annual Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah concert at the Auditorium Theatre, https://www.auditoriumtheatre.org/. For seventeen years, this “exuberant, jazz-gospel makeover” (Chicago Tribune) of Handel’s classic Messiah has brought Chicagoans together every Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend! This inspirational performance features world-class musicians filling the Auditorium’s historic stage with a chamber orchestra, jazz combo, a huge choir, and three gifted soloists: Alfreda Burke, Karen-Marie Richardson, and Rodrick Dixon. “Too Hot to Handel: The Jazz-Gospel Messiah is your grandmother’s choral classic sliced, diced, spiced, swirled, swung, amplified, and totally reinvented” (Chicago Reader). This has been out there for seventeen years; obviously, it’s time we went. No, I did not grow up versed in Gospel-style swing-and-sway in church, even now I’m bit lost (meaning stiff and slow, not very rhythmic), but that does not stop me from enjoying it. You will too, and besides, it’s at the Auditorium Theatre, and that is always its own pleasure. The show starts at 3:00pm, and we’ll need reservations, of course.
The holidays may well be over, but the music never stops, and in January that means catching one of Buddy Guy’s personal concert appearances at his famous “Legends” Blues Club, 700 S. Wabash, https://buddyguy.com/. Buddy Guy is arguably the greatest living blues artist in the world, so, before the opportunity escapes, make your reservations to join us on Friday, January 21st. Buddy will be on stage with another Chicago blues powerhouse, Vino Louden, who has worked with B.B. King, KoKo Taylor, and Bonnie Raitt to name a few. Tonight we’ll hear these two genuine living legends deliver the Blues with unmatched power and style. The show starts at 8:30pm, and you don’t want to take a chance on SRO availability, so with reservations we’ll get assigned seats and no waiting, meet us there about 8:00pm.
Holy cow, wasn’t that TOTALLY worth it? My ears may be ringing for a few days, but I don’t care. That’s the best blues show I’ve heard in at least a decade, how about you? Living legends, live at Legends, that’s the best. OK, travel home safely and we’ll see you again soon.
Now that the holiday crush is over, let’s take full advantage of January’s last free admission day at the Field Museum of Natural History, 1400 S Lake Shore Drive, today, Wednesday, January 26th, where we can get in early and spend all day walking through all the general admission exhibits the museum has to offer. This is a great day to bring the kids, of course; I was fascinated by the Egyptian mummies as a child, and our knowledge of Egyptian culture, home and social life, and exacting details of the mummification process are now so advanced that it’s like starting over completely.
We’ve seen Sue, the T.Rex, in her new realm, and we’ve met Maximo the Titanosaur, so let’s just wave at them this time, as we travel over to the Pokagon Potawatomi Black Ash Baskets to learn how the Pokagon Potawatomi use baskets to keep their traditions, sacred beliefs, and histories alive. Each basket, it seems, comes alive as it’s being so carefully designed and woven, each with a unique soul and voice. As the museum tells us “Chicago is situated on the lands of the Potawatomi people. They were the stewards of this land and lived, loved, and cared for it until forced out by non-Native settlers. With much of their land and resources taken from them, the Potawatomi faced the loss of their traditions. In the 1970s, skilled artisans founded the Pokagon Basket Makers’ Co-op to revive and carry on the art of basketry, which continues to thrive today.” Here we can see first hand the tremendous success they have had in their work.
There are so many other exhibits, the kids want to drag us everywhere, it seems, so let’s just let them lead the way for a while and see what their young eyes can teach us, shall we? Ancient America, right this way; Animal Biology is just over here. Are they tired out yet? OK, one more, Conservation: Restoring Earth, must be that way. It’s wonderful that the kids seem to understand the importance of this so much better than most adults, who just don’t want to be bothered.
It’s been a long, wonderful and quite exhausting day, hasn’t it? Well worth every minute, and a great way to finish the month, even though there are still a few days left. Don’t worry, use the time to rest up for February’s winter fun, and until then, stay happy, healthy, and adventurous.