Your Chicago Correspondent
Do you believe Autumn is here already? Sheesh, this year is just roaring past us at breakneck speed, don’t you think? The weather patterns are changing to the point that many trees started turning colors by the end of August, and now they are in full swing. So while the weather is still nicely warm during the day, and getting nicely crisp in the evening, let’s take advantage and get October’s adventures underway, shall we?
A friend of ours has reignited a love for Doo-Wop style music. Oh boy! Now, instead of listening to recordings on YouTube, today, Sunday, October 9th, we’re heading out to the MAC, 425 Fawell Blvd., College of DuPage, Glen Ellen, https://www.atthemac.org/, for The Doo Wop Project concert, www.thedoowopproject.com/. It starts at 3:00pm, please meet us early.
The concert leads us through the doo-wop progression from group singing by inner city African Americans showing off their tight harmonies on street corners, up to some of today’s biggest pop hits. From the Belmonts and Flamingos to the The Temptations, Smokey Robinson and The Four Seasons, this fine, acclaimed and talented group (stars of Broadway’s smash hits Jersey Boys and Motown: The Musical) shows us the entire spectrum of doo-wop, and shows what’s still possible in a genre that’s almost been lost.
This Monday, October 10th, is Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples Day. Christopher Columbus was the navigator who is credited with “discovering” America. He didn’t. First of all, he landed on an island in the Caribbean, and thought he was near India. Secondly, the Vikings settled Greenland in 986, had camps in Nova Scotia by 1000 and stayed until 1480, a fact that was not recognized outside of Scandinavia. Besides that, Columbus was so terrible an administrator, abusing the islanders he subjugated so horribly that he was sent to Spain in chains. Indigenous Peoples Day gives us an opportunity to examine the many tribes and cultures in the Americas from pre-Columbian to modern times. So, in the face of all that, let us reflect for a few moments upon the strange vagaries of human history that have shaped the world we now live in.
On a much lighter note, this evening, Tuesday, October 11th, feel free to join us at the Harris Theater, 205 E. Randolph St., www.harristheaterchicago.org/, where the professional chorus and group, Music of the Baroque, will perform “Baroque Heroes”, a program filled with works from composers from across the Baroque period. Don’t worry if you’re not sufficiently familiar with orchestral music to distinguish Baroque from other types of classical music. I’m not either and when performed by a group of such talented singers and musicians, it doesn’t matter. This is beautiful music, very approachable for our untrained ears, don’t you think?
How about something really different? We heading to the Field Museum, 1400 S. DuSable Lake Shore Dr., www.fieldmuseum.org/, today, Saturday, October 15th, to take in the Wild Color Exhibition. Yes, this exhibit puts on display all the colors that nature brings to the world, in ways we never thought possible. There are sensory rooms representing hues of the rainbow through light, texture, and sound. Nearby is a platypus that fluoresces under UV light, and examples of amazing animals, especially birds, in every color. We’ll get to learn about “Super Black”. This occurs in birds, and is officially the blackest shade of black. It has apparently evolved to set off bright plumage; the black really makes those flamboyant yellows and oranges stand out. This actually happens not only because of pigment in the feathers, but more importantly because tiny structures in the feathers are positioned in ways that break up light and disable the natural reflectivity of the feather, all for the chance to attract a better mate. That’s amazing!
At 7:30pm tonight, Sunday, October 16th, Giordano Dance Chicago will launch their Fall program at the MAC, https://www.atthemac.org/. America’s original jazz dance company has been performing their magic for 60 years. The dancers never cease to captivate the audience, showing off their fluidity, strength and physical control in ways that frequently seem impossible. We’ll stay after the show; perhaps we’ll be lucky enough to join Nan Giordano and the dancers in a master class. All skill-levels are welcome, so perhaps even my two left feet will learn something.
Tonight, Saturday, October 22nd, let’s grab dinner somewhere before heading to The Green Mill, 4802 N. Broadway Ave., https://greenmilljazz.com/. The Green Mill is a fascinating, authentic speak-easy, so let’s get here by 7:00pm to be sure we get seats for the Warren Vache & Russ Phillips Quintet, playing from 8:00pm until midnight. These guys are all-stars; they have practiced and mastered the techniques developed in swing and pre-bop bands and show their chops for lyrical vocal improvisation, melodic invention and elegant arrangement. They make a compelling case for straightforward Jazz. From the wistful Count Basie tune “Blue and Sentimental” to the compelling excitement of “Cotton Tail” every song is engaging to both our senses and our emotions. Hasn’t this been a wonderful show?
It’s already Friday, October 28th, After work today, let’s go eat. Please meet us at Anteprima, 5316 N. Clark St.,www.anteprimachicago.net/. It’s a lovely trattoria in the Andersonville neighborhood. They have a fine menu, here, take a look. May we share appetizers? What looks good to you? Ah, yes, the Sicilian Camponata relish with olives, excellent. The Polenta will go well with that. Yes indeed, these are a wonderful start; the olives and relish are full of flavor, and the polenta is perfectly creamy and warm.
For pasta, what if we try the Tagliatelle? Three entrees should be enough for all of us, yes? How about Brazed Pork Shoulder, Trout Picatta, and Grilled Chicken? Each is different, and they are all delicious. Pass the sharing plate will you? Yes, coffee and biscotti all around, please. Our compliments to the chef and to the staff, every dish has been excellent. Wasn’t this wonderful? See you tomorrow.
Today, Saturday, October 29th, meet us please at the Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., www.chicagoculturalcenter.org/, for The Great Chicago Fire in Focus photographic exhibition. The Great Chicago Fire of October 8-10, devastated almost the entire city, leaving 100,000 people with no homes and almost no alternatives. The population of Chicago in 1871 was about 334,000, so one out of every three people had nowhere to sleep. Can you imagine what that was like? Now, for the first time, you don’t have to imagine. As the notes from this exhibit tell us:
“Following the Great Chicago Fire of October 1871, commercial photographers descended on the city to record its devastation.
Photographic equipment of the era had quality lenses, and the glass-negatives inserted into the camera had the capability to record intricate details. But the paper-based prints offered for sale by the photographers lost much of the negative’s sharpness.
For over fifty years, historian and photographic collector David R. Phillips sought and discovered the long-forgotten glass plate negatives that photographers inserted into their cameras 150 years ago. When combined with today’s digital reproduction technologies, these rescued 1870s glass negatives provide detailed imagery of the Chicago Fire’s devastation with a dramatic clarity never before possible.”
WOW! Do you see how clear these are, compared with the grainy newsprint photos we’ve been shown since we were kids? It’s very sad to see how thoroughly Chicago was destroyed, isn’t it? Yes, the Chicago Plan rebuilt the city more beautifully, and to much better standards than before, but still, I never knew, until now, how bad it really was.
It’s Halloween, you know, and it’s YOUR TURN to host the costume party. Send details, you know we’ll be there. No excuses, it’s the start of the holiday season and we’re all counting on you!
With All Souls and All Saints Days behind us, let’s use today, Saturday, November 5th, to reflect upon the past and the ways in which we honor our dead. A visit to Rosehill Cemetery, 5800 N. Ravenswood Ave., will fit the occasion nicely. This is an old and very large Chicago cemetery filled with impressive family memorials, statues and monuments, in various styles. The front gate is purposely impressive and authentically Gothic. We’ll both drive and walk around, noticing the different sections dedicated to the Jewish and Muslim faiths, as well as to the Greek, Romanian, Korean, Hispanic and Chinese cultures. Here’s a statue of a sleeping mother and child, carved in stone and set permanently under glass. Over there is a marker carved to look like a train car emerging from a tunnel. Don’t you wonder about the family stories behind them? This place uses excellent landscape architecture; tall, stately trees provide a screen on sunny days, then become leafless testaments to the frailty of life in the winter.
That’s quite enough gloom for one day so let’s go eat. We’re not too far from First Slice Pie Cafe, https://firstslice.org/ 5357 N. Ashland Ave., so let’s head there and warm up with a cup of roasted tomato soup, or perhaps you’d prefer Cuban black bean? They are both delicious and the best part is having pie for dessert. There are fruit pies and cream pies galore to choose from; I’ve got my eyes on a slice of Michigan Sour Cherry; a slice of that French Silk is pie for you, I can see. Yum! Thanks for coming with us.
Here we are friends and readers, all the way through October and beginning the holiday season. It’s been a genuine pleasure to spend this time with you, and we’ll get together again soon. Until next month, keep adventuring.