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September in Chicago. Summer’s Last Hurrah

Frank Brichetto

Chicago Correspondent

Life anywhere, especially in and around Chicago, can be an adventure any day. Just keep your smile on, gather with your friends and family, and seek out new and interesting things to do and experience.

As I write this, my friends, Delta Variant and other Covid-19 and vaccine issues are forcing the city, state and even neighboring states to re-examine and alter face-mask requirements.  So as we adventure forth this month let’s all stuff a mask in our purse or pocket and put it on when requested. If enough people had the vaccine, there would not be anywhere near this level of trouble, so please go get the shots.

Hey, everybody, don’t you love it when a month starts with a holiday? Today, Monday, September 6th, is Labor Day, a national holiday for good reason; America is built by hard, physical labor. So let’s enjoy our day off to gather with friends and family and honor our hard-working parents and grand-parents, aunts and uncles, and our own hard work. The Labor Movements in the US struggled to give us the 40-hour, five day work-week, decent wages, and even a longer life-span. Remember, during this time, such pivotal events as:

Jamestown Craftsmen Strike: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1619_Jamestown_craftsmen_strike, in 1619 the fledgling Virginia Colony experienced its first strike by forbidding non-English immigrants the vote. The strikers won.

The Haymarket Affair: http://www.illinoislaborhistory.org/the-haymarket-affair, May 4, 1886, innocent men were arrested and some were hanged, for their words, not anything they did. We’ve all heard of the “Haymarket Riot”, but most of us have little idea of the events beforehand, nor of those afterward, which still affect our lives today.

The Greensboro Massacre: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greensboro_massacre, On November 3rd, 1979, five labor organizers were murdered in Greensboro, North Carolina, at a rally protesting KKK and American Nazi Party recruitment efforts at area textile mills. Local police, the FBI, the BATF and even the CIA all knew of the planned attack, yet did nothing to prevent it. This was in 1979, dear readers. The struggle continues.

But hey, Labor Day is a holiday, so let’s go enjoy some music in our favorite outdoor venue, Pritzker Pavilion. Tonight, from 6:00pm until 8:30pm, we shall hear something we’ve never heard before,

“Contemporary Indigenous Voices”. These artists come from different nations in the US and Canada, using their musical talents to imagine new possibilities for Indigenous music, while staying true to  cultures and artistry that are older than America. The concert features the Anishinaabe artist, Leonard Sumner; Navajo and Cheyenne musician, Lyla June; and Native American rapper Tall Paul.

While the show starts at 6:00pm, let’s pack a bit of food and gather together at about 4:30pm; shall we meet under the “Bean”, then head over to the lawn at the Pavilion?  We’ll stake out a nice spot and settle in, so we can catch up on things before this fabulous concert begins. Each artist brings a different  culture, native language, and personal experience to their music, and it really comes through, don’t you think? This is very moving, physically and emotionally. The struggles and stories of Native peoples reflected in these songs resonate with the struggles we all face today, in a clear and honest way. I’m so glad we came.

This evening, Friday, September 10th, Concerts in the Parks brings The Knolls called “Chicago’s favorite party band” to Horner Park, 2741 W. Montrose Ave., at 7:00pm. To be honest, I’ve never heard, or even heard of, The Knolls before, but hey, if they’re a favorite party band of even some small number of Chicagoans, they are likely rather good. So why not join us, please, about 6:30pm (bring your own chairs) and we’ll grab a good spot for viewing and listening. Over here? Come on, sit down, let’s chat and catch up before we listen to these musicians play through their broad repertoire of classics mixed with a few original songs of their own. Not too bad, hmmm? That was fun, see you soon!

Today, Sunday, September 12th, let’s go get carry-out and meander to a local park to sit and eat a style of food that we tend to pass over.  How about it? Order online, then meet us at Lawrence Fish Market, 3920 W. Lawrence Ave., https://www.lawrencefish.com, where we’ll pick up our tasty bits and head over to Gompers Park to pick out a table and eat while we visit.  What to order? Sushi! This little, unassuming store front has some of the freshest, tastiest sushi in all of Chicago, all at very affordable prices. I told you, this is really good.

“Chicago in Tune” is what the city is calling various musical evenings around town, each capturing at least a bit of the flavor of our favorite music festivals. Today, Saturday, September 18th, is the last one, so please meet us this evening at the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park for an evening of the Blues, as only Chicago can play it. This year we’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of Alligator Records, https://www.alligator.com. This small but powerful label was founded in Chicago in 1971, releasing Hound Dog Taylor and the House Rockers, the first of over 350 titles from among the most famous musicians in the genre.

Tonight we’ll hear Alligator stars, Lil’ Ed & The Blues Imperials, the incomparable Shemekia Copeland, Chicago’s own harmonica wizard, Billy Branch, and blues genius Wayne Baker Brooks, among others. This will be a great show, just relax and listen up.

Let this be a warning! Today, Wednesday, September 22nd, is the First Day of Autumn for us in the Northern Hemisphere, and while the weather here is still generally sunny, warm and wonderful, we are nearing the end of the balmy days.  Never mind.  Meet us after work for a some fabulous Persian food at N.O.K., (773) 647-1988, 6075 N Milwaukee Ave., https://nokrestaurants.com/.  The food here is fabulous if you have even the slightest taste for Persian / Mediterranean food. The Persian Empire, after all, once extended all the way from India to Greece and Egypt, so we can expect a wide variety of flavors on our plates.

Noura Mint Seymali and Jupiter & Okwess perform at the Pritzker Pavilon on the last night of the 2019 Millennium Park Summer Music Series, August 2019.

For appetizers we’ll dive into both the dolmeh (stuffed grape leaves) and spicy pomegranate wings, thank you.  How about you? Perhaps the baba ghannouj (roasted eggplant blended with tahini, seasonings and a bit of olive oil)? For the main course we’ll share a plate of falafel, and a combination plate with a skewer of chicken and another of beef, both seasoned to perfection. Even the rice and charbroiled tomatoes are delicious.  You guys are having the salmon plate and joujeh koubideh (ground chicken kabob)? They both look and smell wonderful.

I notice your plates are both empty, you enjoyed your meal, yes? So did we. What a nice way to end the summer season.

Now this is something totally different; this evening, Saturday, September 25th, Night Out in the Parks is presenting Reclaimed Timber.  Six percussionists “bring the city’s complex and difficult housing history to life through sound and light” by playing on just six pieces of wood that has been scavenged from demolished or abandoned Chicago homes. “The presentation is an immersive, hypnotic musical performance featuring 5000 LED lights.” I’m sure this will be delightful and completely engaging, so please meet us at 300 W. 19th St. beneath the 18th Street bridge, at Ping Tom Memorial Park. The show starts at 7:00pm and only lasts until 8:00pm, so don’t be late!

Today, Saturday, October 2nd, let’s go for a bike ride, shall we?  We haven’t ridden the Des Plaines River Trail together so meet us at the Cahokia Flatwoods Forest Preserve, in Wheeling, Illinois. Bring some small snacks to stuff in your seat pack, and a cooler with lunch, and extra water bottles.  Lake County does a great job of maintaining the trail, and we’ll find that rolling along the crushed limestone and hardpack gravel is easy pedaling. Leaves are starting to change into their autumn colors, aren’t they beautiful? But notice how high the river seems to be. The wetlands have their own beauty and a different natural presence, don’t you think? The deer and raccoons are still around, of course, but there are more waterfowl, and we can still hear the frogs croaking loudly as we pass by.  The bikes are smooth, quick and quiet, and we can sometimes get really close before a deer or raccoon notices our approach and startles away.

Well, we’ve come about fifteen miles already, and I think it’s time for snacks.  We can slip into a picnic area, relax for a few minutes, and then go on a bit farther before we head back.  Just a few minutes, we don’t want our legs getting too stiff to ride easily.  Have you noticed all the different kinds of trees? I barely know the difference between an oak and a maple, but along the river there must be a few dozen varieties.  There is always so much to learn.  Time to turn around?  OK, lunch is calling, let’s pedal faster, shall we?

We’ve made it back, put the bikes away, and hungrily devoured our lunches to finish up another great afternoon,  Thanks for joining us.

Well, summer may officially be over, but that never stops us, does it? It’s been a while, so today, Sunday, October 3rd, let’s head down to the Maxwell Street Market 800 S. Desplaines St. It’s open from 9:00am until 3:00pm, so have an early brunch and meet us there at 11:00am so we can have four full hours of family fun.  There’s a Farm Market area with all the fresh veggies and baked goods you could want, book sellers, clothing and housewares, handmade crafts, ceramics and art, the best street food around, and even live music and dance lessons.  Yes, dance lessons. OK, I’ll take dance lessons; you go first. Well, tomorrow is back to regular work, so travel safely.

We’ve explored a few new corners of Chicago this month, and visited a few we’ve seen before. Once again our adventures have taken us right through the entire month and right into October, so until next month, dear readers and friends, keep adventuring.