Well, my friends and readers, here we are, it’s November, the weather is changing wildly from day to day but the chill of the coming winter is definitely in the air. “HA!” we say, laughing at the weather as we adventure on our merry ways. Truly, the most annoying thing this year is the lingering problem of Covid-19 and the precautions and social distancing that keep us physically apart. Please remember to bring your masks and hand sanitizer with, everywhere we go.
We’ve spent the first week this month catching up on our chores, and are ready for adventures of the highest order. This morning, Sunday November 8th, do not eat breakfast! You’ll want to be very hungry when you join us for brunch, about 11am, at 2748 N Lincoln Ave, home of Batter & Berries, https://batterandberries.com/, a truly delightful little place with an eclectic menu that includes a “French Toast Flight” of four different toasts. Yes, we can share one of those. How about the Banana-Walnut Belgique Waffle? Look, it’s even served with a vanilla-rum sauce! Me? Everything looks so good, but for me it’s the Executive Breakfast, steak and eggs done right, with rib-eye steak, grilled mushrooms & onions, Cabernet sauce, and cheese crusted hash browns. (Oh, you have to taste this! Mmm.) Coffee and conversation, of course. Are you filled up? I told you to be hungry!
Now let’s walk down Lincoln Avenue to Julia Porter Park, right at Halsted and Fullerton, where we’ll join Free Tours on Foot for the deliberately slow Blues and Gangster Tour. We’ll wander through Lincoln Park, “Famous for hidden gems, hired guns, and hot guitars, …to view the unique residential streets” and buildings by famed architects Bruce Graham and Louis Sullivan. Our expert guide will talk to us of how notorious gangsters lived and died, and how prohibition affected Chicago. Here’s the Biograph Theater, where John Dillinger was killed, and over there is the site of the infamous St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Perhaps, as we walk the bar district, we’ll hear the opening notes and chords of blues guitars, while our guide weaves us through a brief history of Blues and how Chicago came to be such a dominant locale for Blues artists. The tour ends at Lincoln Park, and we can stroll about for a while before we head home. It gets dark early now, doesn’t it?
Hasn’t this been wonderful? See you next week!
After work today, Friday, November 13th, meet us at one of our favorite places, the Art Institute of Chicago, https://www.artic.edu/, 111 S. Michigan Ave., where we’ll take in two wonderful exhibits. The first, Monet and Chicago, not only shows us many of his magnificent works, it also details the ways in which, since 1888 when his paintings first appeared in a gallery here, Monet has contributed to the vibrancy of our city and, in turn, how Chicagoans were early supporter of his art, contributing to his growing fame.
The second exhibit for this evening is of another French artist, called Toulouse-Lautrec and the Celebrity Culture of Paris. You will recognize many of his fancifully styled posters, and we’ll discover the dancers, equestrians, performers and other celebrities who were thrilled to be the subjects of his pieces. In Montmartre – a Parisian neighborhood known for its cabarets and dance halls – Toulouse-Lautrec portrayed a flamboyant nightlife that had burst forth in the late 19th century. Amazing, isn’t it?
We always love the Art Institute, but it’s late, and we have more in store tomorrow evening, so good night, please travel safely.
Tonight, Saturday, November 14th, we’re off to the Genesee Theater, 203 North Genesee St, Waukegan, IL, to see and hear The Led Zeppelin Experience, led by none other than Jason Bonham, with his band, No Quarter. Jason, of course, is the son of Zeppelin’s drummer, the late John Bonham, and this show is more than a tribute, it’s a genuine celebration of life. Jason will send up anecdotes from his life as the child of a Rock ‘n Roll superstar, home movie clips of him and his dad will be shown, and the giant video back screen will show original performance footage along with visionary electronic art. Expect full-on sensory overload. I’m bringing ear plugs, just in case.
My ears are still ringing, but today, Sunday November 15th, let’s visit the Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St., www.chicagohistory.org, to see the Modern Design, Chicago Streamlines America, exhibit. You will not believe the many ways in which the “streamlined” design motif made its way into objects with which we’re all familiar. Many of these designs are still in use today, because, well, streamlining just looks cool. The Museum puts it this way:
“In the midst of the Great Depression, Chicago emerged as a vibrant center of streamlined design. The aerodynamic style expressed optimism and a desire for speed, power, and efficiency that suited life in the 20th century. Showcased at the 1933–34 world’s fair, this aesthetic and its enormous popularity prompted many local companies to hire new talent to design stylish yet affordable goods for middle-class consumers. Some of Chicago’s quintessential streamlined products, including Radio Flyer wagons, Sunbeam appliances, and Farmall tractors, became national best-sellers and remain icons of modern American design.
Featuring nearly 300 objects, photographs, and printed materials dating from the 1930s to 1950s, Modern by Design: Chicago Streamlines America celebrates Chicago’s role in shaping one of the most popular and enduring styles in our history.”
Wow, that was amazing, wasn’t it? What a fun adventure-filled weekend this has been. Don’t forget, next week is our road trip. You’ve made your reservations, right?
This morning, Saturday, November 21st, let’s start early, before 8am, and head south on I-55, because we’re headed to St. Louis, Missouri, Gateway to the West. We’ll stop in Springfield, gas up, and grab a few corn-dogs in the diner where they were invented, Cozy Dog, 2935 S. 6th St., Springfield, IL, www.cozydogdrivein.com. Yeah, I agree with you; these are good.
Back on the highway, we’ll head straight downtown and check in for a luxurious, but surprisingly affordable, room at the Hilton At The Arch, 400 Olive St., Saint Louis, 1-314-436-0002.
Why not, especially since it’s a short walk to the Gateway Arch, www.gatewayarch.com and its museum, both of which are open, despite Covid, I’ve never taken the tram to the top before, have you? Check this out, it’s marvelous. How far can we see? 30 miles! In the museum we’ll walk through 6 different galleries, each giving us a perspective on the history and culture of people who’ve lived here, from the founding of St. Louis in 1764 until the completion of the Arch in 1965. I love history, and this is a wonderful, in-depth experience to appreciate for years. We can take our time walking back to the hotel, and have enough time to clean up and dress up a bit, so meet us in the lobby about 4:30pm.
Today’s adventures are by no means complete: come with us, back into Illinois. Just 30 miles from the Arch is The Shrine of Our Lady of The Snows, https://snows.org/, 442 S. DeMazenod Dr., Belleville, where Roman Catholic priests and brothers illuminate The Way of Lights, a display of over a million lights depicting various religious scenes surrounding the birth of Jesus Christ. This is completely religious, there are no Santa Clauses, snowmen or reindeer to be found, and that makes the slow drive through the display all the more powerful. Whether you are Christian or not, it is my hope that this trip will leave you with a deeper appreciation and wonder for the life you have to live.
That was fabulous, and now it’s time for dinner. Al’s Restaurant, 1200 N. First St., Saint Louis, http://www.alsrestaurant.net/ is right nearby, 95 years old, and has award winning food and excellent service, in a grand setting of hand carved wood work, historic photography, and original oil paintings. The Beef Romano for me please, with Lobster Bisque, and a side of the Angel Hair pasta in garlic butter sauce. Dessert, hmm, let’s see…as appealing as the Italian Tortufo sounds, I think the Rustic Apple Tart will be a bit more to my liking tonight. A small digestivo after all that, and then we’ll head to a good night’s sleep.
Oh man, we slept well, how about you folks? Sunday November 22nd, we’ll head home, taking “Historic Route 66”, rather than the Interstate. We can have breakfast at some long-standing diner, where the pancakes are good and the coffee even better. Later on we can get a quiet lunch at a restaurant or drive-in stand, gas up, and get home in time to unpack and settle down before work tomorrow. Thank you for your company, adventures are always more fun in groups, aren’t they?
Thursday, November 26, is Thanksgiving, always my favorite holiday. You did say it’s yours, too, right? The City of Chicago, because of the horrors of Covid-19, has canceled the Thanksgiving Day Parade this year. This is truly a sad time for all of us, but we will persevere. Family will be showing up early; the cookies, pies, sweet potatoes, and yes, the turkey, in all its simmering, sizzling glory, must be ready on time. So we’ll tune in to NBC, Channel 5 Chicago, from 9am until noon, and catch glimpses of the pre-recorded, virtual Macy’s Parade from New York, while we prepare. Please enjoy your holiday, the time with your family, and even put on a smile while you help with the clean up. Gentlemen, do your part, cheerfully, and appreciatively, with the occasional kiss for your loved one. Then, hey, isn’t there a game on? I hope they save me a seat. Happy Thanksgiving everyone.
Friday, November 27th, is, of course, Black Friday, traditionally the first, and busiest, shopping day of the Christmas and Holiday season. RESIST! Well, OK, shop if you must, but be careful. Personally, I never go shopping today and I sincerely recommend that you don’t either. We’re staying home to start decorating. You simply cannot have too many Santa Clauses on display!
There are still a few days to the month, and always more adventures to be had, but this is a busy time for all of us, so let’s get some rest, take a few deep breaths, do the shopping and chores we need to do, and get together again next month, when winter will be officially upon us, the holidays will be in full swing, and Chicago will be filled with incredible adventures once more.