After my first 24 hours in Chicago
Friday night, we were off to Steppenwolf Theatre to see American Buffalo, by David Mamet. I hadn't known anything about it, other than it being a classic, and it turned out to be a real treat. The seats were excellent (even though they were in the back row; it was a small theatre), and the play itself was disturbing and well done. "Disturbing" because it said much about friendship and "business" (read, shady dealings). The set made me smile- the stage was made to be a junk shop in a basement, with much of a real junk shop's worth of stuff cluttering the stage, with amazing lighting coming from "upstairs" or from florescent bulbs. Very intricate, as also were the story and the dialogue.
Saturday, we went for deep dish pizza at a nearby bar and didn't pay much attention to the (American) football on the tube, except when the guy next to us at the bar made a comment in our direction about a play. I burned my tongue on some marinara sauce.
We walked around Old Town, and we saw A Very Merry Unauthorized Children's Scientology Pageant
. It was very merry, indeed. Fairly self-referentially funny (it started with a disclaimer about Scientology and Dianetics being copyright, etc etc.) The players were all kids, the set was very simple, and it was a 60-minute show. We agreed 60 minutes was a good length.
Then, to a Mexican restaurant, where our dinner was overshadowed by the blind-date a table over, where the guy really
needed a hearing-aid, because we didn't need to hear him strike out.
Sunday: more touring around, including The Art Institute of Chicago, which has added a large wing since I was last there
in 2006. High points for me: a temporary exhibit called "Light Me Black" - the floor was drywall punched with a lot of craters, and some hundred florescent tube lights were suspended in the middle of the room. Entering, we were told, "please watch your step and don't make more holes." It was remarkably stark, and I liked that. There was also a wonderful exhibit on Arts and Crafts in Britain and Chicago; not only Frank Lloyd Wright, but Stickley furniture, Tiffany glass, and photos by Alfred Stieglitz and others. I was amazed by two finds: a self-portrait by Edward Steichen
, a bichromate gum photograph which appears as a painting- Steichen manipulated the print with brush-strokes to add both white and black shades. I stood there studying it for quite a while. ...And there was a neat piece by Marion Mahony Griffin, a line drawing of a Frank Lloyd Wright house which used space and light/dark in a stylistically Japanese way. I appreciated how the exhibit called out a number of associations between Arts and Crafts and design elements taken from Japanese forms in the mid-1800s- lots of connections I hadn't known of.
In the evening, we popped off to Alinea for the most decadent dinner I've ever had. ( Twelve courses )
So that's how I ended my Chicago trip; with a hangover, pulling my bags through a new layer of snow, back through the Red Line, Orange Line L, to Midway (a bit concerned about time; the train was slow; but then my plane was late arriving), back to Toronto Island, back to Royal York Hotel, where I sat and read for an hour because my late plane meant I missed the earlier bus back, then dragged myself up to the Greyhound station to catch the 3pm bus home, which got me in the door at 5:30.
Which, I'll note, was just exactly 24 hours after the caviar, champagne, and quail eggs.
This life, it is a good one.
Oh, finally: I think Porter was a good choice, but not a great choice. I didn't pay more for the plane ticket, the departures lounge in Toronto was wonderful; but on the way back, missing that bus meant I got home two hours after I'd hoped I would, turning a 7-hour travel day into 9-hour travel. *shrug* It was a good experiment, at least.