"Going Down to CowTown, the Cow's a Friend to Me!*" Chicago by BeatChick
Chicago Travel Guide: 5,906 reviews and 12,103 photos
*That's a They Might Be Giants reference (Cowtown)! :)
Looks like I've been to Chicago 9 times now:
Trip with friends & family - August 2011
Lollapalooza - August 2010
Dane Cook (comedian) Concert - June 13-14, 2009
With my son, Ian - Memorial Day Weekend (May 22-25, 2009)
With Mr. Connolly - November 2008
Layover on the trip to St. Louis to see Radiohead - May 2008
The Pogues (Irish Folk Punk band) Concert - March 6, 2008
40th Birthday Bash - September 2007
1st trip ever - Autumn 2000
The Pogues Concert!!
I must be on me way
So buy me beer and whiskey 'cause I’m going far away (FAR AWAY!)
"Sally MacLennane" - The Pogues
Last year (March 2008), I traveled to Chicago via Megabus to see that great Dubliner group THE POGUES IN CONCERT - it was awesome, absolutely THE BEST concert I'd ever been to. The Pogues (a shortening of the original name, Pogue Mahone, which means Kiss me arse in Gaelic) are classified as an Irish folk-punk band. Only a band this great could successfully blend two apparently dissimilar musical genres into one kick-arse band! To better put this band into perspective for you and introduce you to their punk cred, The Pogues (especially Shane MacGowan, lead singer) has had a long association with The Clash. Indeed, Joe Strummer (God rest his soul) toured with the band for a time and collaborated with Mr. MacGowan on outside projects. Sinead O'Connor also calls herself a friend and made a duet with Shane called "Haunted" (I want to be haunted by the ghost of your precious love), a song that Shane wrote for the soundtrack to one of the greatest punk films, Sid & Nancy.
I've been a huge fan of The Pogues for about 20 years and felt, being a Connolly and all, that it was nigh time for me to see 'em! Most of the songs came from their 2 great albums:
Rum, Sodomy & the Lash
If I Should Fall from Grace with God
Philip Chevron, who'd taken a hiatus from the group this past June, thankfully returned for the shows in Chicago. I cried to see him up there - God bless him!! :) Shane MacGowan, surely the drunkest sot in rock & roll, was of course a wee bit into the bottle when he appeared on stage yet he remembered every single lyric (even if at one point he came in a bit late on one of the songs). ;)
I was right in the front row (festival seating) just to the right and it was an absolutely amazing experience. The Pogues continue their tour across the US and will be in NYC (with its huge Irish contingency) St. Patrick's Day.
My first-ever visit was just prior to my first trip to London/Paris, which was my first trip overseas and my first flight ever on an airplane. I mark that trip to Chicago as the turning point in my life, a time when I felt I could be more adventurous, more exploratory. Awesome - thanks, Chicago!
That first trip I drove 5 hours from Cincinnati directly to the Chicago Art Institute. Wanted to check out the Impressionists. Loved the Monets and the Seurat painting (and the Picassos, which were not Impressionist but Cubist). BUT I was TOTALLY BLOWN AWAY by a Renoir (hope to get a photo) of 2 sisters (ahhh, the cobalt blues, the vibrant reds), a Henry Moore sculpture, the Chagall stained-glass window (must be something about the blues, eh?), and the Edward Hopper painting called "Nighthawks" (considered his most famous, I think).
September 2007, I traveled to Chitown for the big 4 0!! Had a blast and came back blissfully exhausted as expected!! Was there September 14th - 16th (the latter being my actual birthday).
While I was in Chicago, Mr. Connolly said there was another gift waiting for me on my desk. When I came home I went straight up to see it. He'd taken the page (p. 177) in Fodor's Paris 2008 where I'm quoted and had it framed in a black frame with b&w matting. It's GORGEOUS and I was so touched!!! I can't believe he did that! So thoughtful & precious. :D
The most amazing thing happened that Friday night when I happened to arrive in Chicago as the sun was setting. I drove in on Lake Shore Drive (fab directions Dabs - thanks) along the whole length of it to my youth hostel in the northern part of the city. The lake was to the right (east) looking like a choppy ocean while the city with all its miles of tall buildings was on the left (west) side with a fantasmagorical explosion of color of a sunset.
I found it difficult to pay attention to the road while glancing back & forth between lake & sunset! Beautiful!!
After settling in, I took the El downtown to meet up with Dabs & her hubby, David. Dabs has one of the top Chicago pages here on VT and I've been lucky enough to keep in touch with her over this past year or more. She's such a clever, funny lady (I've been privy to flame wars between her and her great friend, rmdw, and both are witty to the extreme)!
Dabs, her hubby & I did the requisite Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati's, considered one of the best deep-dish experiences in Chicago. In looking at their website, I WAS SOLD. The pizza and hanging out with "the Ds" was wonderful. If you ever get to Chicago and have a chance to meet them, you should because they are so funny. She said David sometimes gets quiet but for some reason he was in his element that night and regaled us with stories. WHat an awesome time!!
Had hoped to do "Bop at the Loop" (as ol' Jack Kerouac would say) but having had only 4.5 hrs of sleep then driving 5 hrs to Chicago I was WIPED! So next time.
Saturday met up with with my dear friend, shrimp56, ANOTHER Top 5 Chicago page, my partner in crime, my Parisophile ami (we met up in Paris 2006 - she's amazing, interesting, funny!) at the Art Institute and we had lunch in the café.
We then traipsed around looking at some of my favorites from the previous visit: the Seurat, a Renoir called "The Two Sisters" and my favorite painting there (and I think in my Top 10), the Caillebotte painting "Rainy Day in Paris". There were several musicians and poets throughout the museum which elevated the level of cultural interest throughout. It was just really great! We ended our visit shopping in the museum gift shop.
That afternoon we said our goodbyes and I stopped off at Au Bon Pain for croissant and Peach iced tea.
Saturday evening met with Dabs & David again for a gala birthday dinner at Joe's Stone Crab, a mid-level priced surf & turf restuarant that was VERY nice.
Found a patisserie that Sunday, Vanille Patisserie, in Chicago that sells macarons, croissants, and chocolates that are JUST like the ones in Paris!!
Did the fantastic $55 brunch at NoMI with Callavetta (another great friend of mine, known as Grasshopper on Fodor's) & Dabs - lasted 4 hours! This thing was LOADED with everything imaginable including my beloved French patisseries (croissants & macarons), and worth every solitary penny! We were the first to arrive and 2nd to the last to leave.
After saying our goodbyes to Dabs it was off for the Lake & River architectural boat cruise on the river with Callavetta and her brood Lornabug & ScienceTeacher; lasted an hour and a half. Lots of Mies van der Rohe and Daniel Burnham buildings. Took TONS of photos but I'm sure I won't be able to identify any of them.
Hailed back to the youth hostel, picked up the car, got lost trying to get to the Lincoln Park Lou Malnati's to pick up a pizza for Terry (double cheese deep dish), got lost coming out of Chicago, got lost around Indy and FINALLY made it home!! It was incredible and I'm so happy I went!
Next visit I hope to hit the Celtic Festival or St. Patrick's Day! I'm a Connolly living with a 2nd-generation Irish-American ex-hubby these events are a MUST, dontcha know. Would love to come back for the Jazz Fest, being the Beatchick and all. Of course, the idea of doing the Peirogi Fest with Dabs lingers, too. And I really MUST get to Garrett Popcorn!!
- Pros:Great food, great art, THE EL!
- Cons:Pedway is still under construction. :(
- In a nutshell:Not nearly enough time to see & do everything on my list!
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