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Friday, February 25, 2011

Chicago, Day Three: "Hey, Chicago!...Bye, Chicago."

I arose after a horrible night's sleep. I fell asleep gently enough, to that King of the Hill episode where Dale thinks his son, Joseph, is an alien. If only I had really fallen asleep in Arlen. Instead, I fell asleep in Chicago, apparently the city that never sleeps because someone was throwing giant metal boxes into a constantly running, honking trunk all throughout the night directly beneath my Sheraton Four Points window. While some people can sleep through this, including the person in the twin bed next to mine (I guess Sheraton didn't approve of our relationship like The James did), I can't sleep through gadflys loading up a leaf ten stories below my window, so I just got up and stared through the glass at them until they went away and the sun came up.
With the sun came hunger, and with hunger came great responsibility. We chose Yolk, one of the highest rated breakfast joints in Chicago. Also, their website is neat. Maybe I should have ordered something more original than waffles to get the full experience. I wanted waffles, though. Waffle cravings must not be denied. It's like the knock on your door you must answer lest your house be blown down and your family destroyed. I did order waffles with bacon cooked into it, which was pretty good, but again, to actually give a good opinion on this restaraunt, I probably should have ordered one of their signature dishes. We ate and left.
Now was the time to return to the Wear's Tower. Visibility or not, this was the final day of the trip, and The Sillis Tower must be mounted. We entered the lobby again, and were again told that visibility was zero at the top. Outside it looked like this:
But I mean, it is the Seallis Tower, and it does have glass ledges that extend 1,353 feet above the city(one of the few accurate facts on this website). So up we went. We were nearly alone in our endeaver and were given free reign once we got to the top. And visibility was zero. I sat down on the glass ledge and could see down about ten stories before the fog ate the landscape away. Just like being inside a cloud, I guess, or being inside a really tall building that is inside a cloud. And we left.
OH NO!!! We left too late, and had to run to the hotel to check out on time. Adrian realized that he had left his phone charger at The James so we crossed the street to see our old friend. Unfortunately he wasn't there to hand out more zingers, but the person who was retrieved the charger for us, and we left for more food.
It was time for another deep dish attack, this time at Lou Malnati's Pizzeria, often considered one of the best deep dish restaraunts in Chicago. We ordered the "Molnatti Chicago Classic" a pizza containing lean sausage, extra cheese, "vine-ripened" tomato sauce on their "famous Buttercrust." This pizza gave me an epiphany:
Pizza is the best food mankind (with obvious divine inspiration) has ever conceived. Deep dish is not the best variation of this concept. The bread overwhelms the toppings. The sauce, lacking the containment it usually finds in the cheese, formlessly sits on top and doesn't get the chance to pop. The cheese is buried under the sauce, and does not receive its rightful place as the first thing to hit the roof of your mouth. Deep dish is literally a pizza-pie, and I have made it clear that while both pizza and pie are awesome, this awesomness is cancelled out when they are combined, thus pizza must not be considered a pie. So while deep dish is still figuratively pizza, and therefore, still somewhat awesome, it pales greatly in the mighty literal light of the best pizza ever made by humans, which at the moment can only be found at:
Fleur de Lis Pizza
5655 Government St
Baton Rouge, LA 70806
Their website may have the word "pie" in it, but I assure you their pizza does not. Actually, it has no words in it at all, just high-quality food ingredients. HOLY COW, IT'S AWESOME.
After Molnatti's, Adrian and I had to go our separate ways. Our flights took off at separate airports at separate times, separately. Here is what it looked like when we separated:
Separate. Goodbye, Adrian. This took place at one of the Red CTA Stations. Some of the colors had little themes going on. Most of the Red Stations looked like this. More on this later, but not too much later because this thing is almost over.
Adrian had been a great guide through the city, but now I was on my own. I decided I should bring some of Molly's Cupcakes back home to my wife because I felt bad for cheating on her with my first cousin, so I trekked three miles through the snow to get some. Yes, by this point it was snowing, hard. I guess those insane blizzards the country has been having felt like they had to show me their stuff, and show me they did, gratuitously and without shame. I was worried I would get Emperor Palpatine feet like I did on the previous day, but somehow I kept moisture out of my shoes this time.
So I drug my suitcase through the snow, all the while being hit up by beggars. I guess I hadn't been making eye contact before when I had Adrian with me, but now I was, and now I was facing the harsh realization I always do when I am visiting a big city: I am a compassionless asshole. I guess my brother got all the compassion or something. Instead of thinking, how can I help this person?, my first thought is always please don't touch me, please don't touch me, please don't touch me. Hey, I might not have much compassion, but at least I am honest and can sleep well knowing I didn't pay for anyone's drugs or booze, right? Right?
Anyway, I finally got to Molly's for those cupcakes and with the help of some very nice strangers, found my way through the correct series of trains that led to the airport (I am not stupid enough to fail to notice the irony in this sentence for following the previous paragraph. That's all I have to say in this parenthetical, just that I didn't want you to think I was stupid). I saw this awesome tile artwork at the Fullerton CTA stop, and almost missed my flight because I couldn't stop staring at it, though my fear of city people caused a constant looking over my shoulder that soon gave me whiplash.
It's like looking down the center of your soul into enternity, dark keeping pace with light, the winner obscured by incomprehensible distance.
My flight got delayed so I tried another Chicago hotdog and found that the Tiger Dogs LSU serves at Tiger Stadium during football games are my favorite hotdogs, and they don't need a fancy poppy seed bun and a trash bin full of toppings to make them champions. LSU! LSU! LSU!
However, I also tried some of Nuts on Clark's original popcorn, and holy crap, Nuts on Clark has the best popcorn in the world, or at least the best popcorn in the cities, states, and countries I've been to and tried popcorn in. Also, the kernels are half the size of a golf ball. I'm not sure I want to know how they are that big, but after consuming them I have not grown any extra appendages, so I'm sure it is fine.
My flight was orginally delayed fifty minutes, and the gate was changed. I found a seat at the new gate, and at the moment the flight was supposed to take off, after hearing nothing from any of the attendants, the doors to the gate were shut. I ran to the door and started banging on it with a few other concerned people, but apparently our flight had been delayed another forty minutes, and they just didn't want to tell us that.
Southwest: Just Plane Smart (TM)
The flight finally took off with me on it and I had one of those deep, late-night, mid-air, existential conversations with myself that is none of your business. We landed in New Orleans. As soon as the "take off your seatbelts" sign dinged, I stood and reached for my carry-on. An elderly man in the seat behind me coughed twice lightly, then coughed violently and wetly. I closed my eyes in an attempt to deflect the germs, and when I opened them, the old dude was covered in vomit. It's like I never left Chicago!
Just kidding. In all seriousness, I greatly enjoyed my time in Chicago. It was definitely like a different planet, and the Eddie Albert lines to The Green Acres theme song may as well be a motto for my life, but I had about as much fun as I could have in a concrete jungle.

That said, South Lousiana is the place to be.
The weather earlier today was sunny with a high of 75, and right now the night is cool, clear, and pleasant.
We have many houses available. Come on down. But no deep dish, please.


laurenthevampireslayer said...

I thoroughly enjoyed your travelogue, Nic!

jess said...

It's funny that you should mention the Green Acres theme song. I used to sing that to Neal when he debated moving to the Cities (and later when family would tell us to move there, after we were married). I still can't get him to move out in the middle of nowhere, or even on a small lake, unfortunately. ;)

I love what big cities have to offer on a short-term basis, but I think I'd end up with severe road rage if I lived in one for long. Chicago and I, in particular, have a love-hate relationship, but that's coming from a native Illinoisan, so you'll have to give me some leeway. ;) (I've been a legal citizen of Illinois, Iowa, Illinois again, and now Minnesota, and I've never seen another city that has such a love-hate relationship with its fellow state citizens.)

Nicholas said...

Thanks, Lauren!
Jess, I sing this song to Crystal all the time. It's going to happen sooner or later.
Also, you and your Illinois kin seem to have the same relationship with Chicago that we Louisianians have with New Orleans. Having once done some pretty extensive traveling through Illinois to get to the Cornerstone festival, the differences between every single town I visited and Chicago, and every town in Louisiana compared to New Orleans seems pretty close.