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Thursday, February 24, 2011

Chicago, Day Two: "Extra Juices"

I woke up on top of the sheets with all my clothes on. I was so impressed by the neatness on my side of the bed that I took a picture of it.
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A note on these pictures:
If you read yesterday's post, take a look at the pictures again. They were not sized correctly, and the edges were cut off. That should be fixed. Also, I took these with a disposable camera. Believe it or not, they still make those, and you can tell by the absolutely incredible picture quality featured here that they are definitely your best option in any photographic opportunity.
A note on the picture above:
Notice the mood lighting above the bed. Sexy.
Adrian and I decided to head to Ann Sather, a restaurant he had previously visited that was also featured on a Food Network program entitled the Best Thing I Ever Ate. We took the train, got off, did some walking, and popped in to a warm, friendly Scandinavian environment, completely staffed by Latinos. Seriously, I have been to Mexico twice, but there are more Spanish speaking people in Chicago then all of Central America. In fact, I didn't know this before I visited, but there is this special train in Chicago called the El Train that Latinos must be able to take down south to visit their families. How awesome is that, guys!
The service at Ann Sather was about the best and friendliest I've had anywhere. I'm not sure most restaurants realize this, but if your wait staff is friendly and responsive, your food can be not that great, and people will still leave happy. The food at Ann Sather's is great AND the wait staff is friendly and responsive. I would go back there in a second, and to be honest, I think I liked it better than any other place we visited. Food-wise, there is a major reason I like it best:
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There it is in all its blurred out, disposable camera glory: The Food Network's "best cinnamon roll I ever ate." And it was the best cinnamon roll I ever ate. It was possibly the best anything I ever ate. It was so good, on the last bite I looked up at the ceiling, shut my eyes, and just held that gooey, buttery cinnamon bread in my mouth until it melted. Upon my transcendence at the dissolving of cinnamon roll into my existence, I opened my eyes and stared at the tiles above me.
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Somehow, a picture was taken. I also ordered the Swedish Sampler which featured an actual real Swedish meatball.
SUPRISE!!! The sauce it came in wasn't red and disgusting like the Swedish meatballs I've had at any party I've ever gone to. The color of the sauce on this meatball was delicious.
After I tore through the meatball, potato sausage, Swedish pancake, and some fresh-squeezed juice my waiter recommended, Adrian and I made our way to the Sears Tower...I mean Willis Tower.
After a walk through ridiculous amounts of freezing wind--that Windy City crap isn't crap, that place is like one big wind funnel connecting the frozen north to the heartland--we finally reached the Sears Tower...um, Willis Tower. The foggy sky had been punctuated by rain, and as soon as we walked into the Sears...Willis Tower, a woman ran up to us and told us visibility at the top of the tower was zero. Not wanting to throw our money away, we left the Sears Tower and walked to the Art Institute of Chicago. At this point it was definitely raining, and the awesome canvas shoes I was wearing had turned into awesome sponges with which I was scrubbing the dirty streets of Chicago clean, one step at a time. We finally reached the museum and its awesome guardian lions, which I for some reason recall once singing The Lion Sleeps Tonight on the Muppets. Maybe I dreamed that? I'm pretty sure the lions are real, though.
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Of course, this picture could just be a dream! NOO!!!
I was most exited about seeing Edward Hopper's Nighthawks, one my favorite paintings. I did not realize the emotional impact seeing actual, physical paintings done by masters would have on me. There's actually a difference between seeing a photograph of Renoir's On the Terrace, and having your nose six inches from the canvas. I did not realize this until I was looking into the actual eyes that his brush created, and at that point I almost lost it, which was kind of a weird and uncomfortable feeling in such a public place, but that isn't really funny, so we'll just skip it and look at how my disposable camera translated the experience of me gazing upon Nighthawks.
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Gosh, it's like you're right there in the room with me, isn't it?
Unfortunately, we only had two hours in the museum, and it would take probably two lifetimes to completely appreciate the brilliance on display in that building, and don't I sound like my nose is tilted at a 45 degree angle?
CONFESSION--It's literally probably not far from that. Maybe 40 degrees?
My feet kind of dried off by this point, but as soon as we stepped back into the formidably freezing Chicago rain, they were drenched again. We passed some wacky, mirrored structure called The Bean, but I have no pictures of this, which is obviously some sort of conspiracy, or simply a testament to how awesome disposable cameras are, or maybe I just didn't take a picture. No one will ever know.
We got back to the James, transferred our stuff to Four Points by Sheraton, and jumped onto the train (Literally. Those doors shut fast) to meet up with the # 2 ranked eater in the world, friend of Adrian, and all around class act, Patrick Bertoletti. Pat took us to his favorite deep-dish pizza place, Pequod's. I'll go into my opinion of deep dish later, but any place named after something in the great American novel, Moby Dick, has to be pretty good. We need more of this. Queequeg's Quesadillas? Ahab's Beef Slabs? Tashtego's Groovy Smoothie Winnebago? Ish-Meal's? Starbucks? Somebody needs to get on that.
Anyway, the food was pretty good, and Pat and his girlfriend were good company, but the time came for us to bid them adieu and once again venture into the cold. We were ready for dessert, but dessert was not yet ready for us. Here is a secret not many people know:
At the famous World's Fair of 1893 in Chicago, scientists came together to formulate a plan that would literally allow the city to grow to an infinite size, all while occupying the same amount of space. That's why if you drive around the outside of Chicago, it just seems to be a decent sized city, but if you actually enter and walk down a street, you will walk down that street for the rest of your life. Now you know. I love providing info that the History Channel will not.
Adrian and I walked down icy streets for a very long time. We even passed DePaul University, but there was a big ugly sign that said Blue Demons out front, and that didn't exactly sound promising, so we took a wide berth. We only have jungle cats and other of God's creatures for mascots in God's South, not evil, supernatural beings. Get it together, godless north!
FINALLY, after I was sure my wet feet were frostbitten, we took a bus or a train or something, I can't even tell the difference in Chicago to be honest, and we ended up at Molly's Cupcakes.
Dang, Molly's Cupcakes is good. I know people are saying this whole cupcake thing is a fad, but I don't want to invest money into cupcake stock, I want to eat them.
My stomach was deep on this trip to Chicago, and I wanted to try to hang with Adrian's incredible eating capabilities, but the sheer awesome richness of Molly's Cupcakes did more than anything to slow me down. I purchased their award-winning Red Velvet cupcake, which was easy work, but then I went for their most popular flavor, the chocolate-peanut butter, and let me just say, if not for my glass of Vitamin D milk, I would have died mid-cupcake. Smiling.
After awaking from a sugary-sweet coma, we took some form of public transportation to the Metro to see The Dismemberment Plan. Chicago has a great deal where you can buy an unlimited 3-day public transportation pass for $14. I could get on a high horse about how this is better for the environment than driving a vehicle everywhere, but I won't for the two simple facts that it would not only make me a hypocrite, but also insult my car, who is very sensitive about his emissions problem.
We finally reached the Metro for the sold out show.
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"Why does the sign say 'TIX AVAIL'?" Adrian asked.
"I don't know. It's been sold out for months."
We entered the club. It was quite obvious that the show was completely sold out.
The sole reason the sign says "TIX AVAIL?"
The reason everything solely exists:
TO RUIN MY PICTURES!!!
We went to the show.
It was awesome.
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We got pretty much right up to the front. The show was everything I wanted. A huge crowd of nerds singing and dancing to every song. I actually felt like a bodybuilder or something compared to a lot of people there (actually, I felt like a bodybuilder next to most people in Chicago. Don't you guys have gyms or something?). It was a blast. The band sounds even better now than they did when they were actually recording music. I get that life circumstances change, but The Dismemberment Plan, don't you know you can just e-mail each other song files these days, and work on songs in that fashion? Then you can just do a little mini-tour like this every other year to promote it. Who cares if the songs you already have are timeless, can still be identified with more than a decade later, and are infinitely enjoyable? Make more of them NOW.
After the show, the band just humbly walked off the stage into the crowd and made friends with their fans. Realizing that after 12 years of singing along to The Dismemberment Plan's songs as if I had composed them myself, talking to them would make my mind explode, Adrian and I fled into the night. At this point, I had one thought in mind:
Instead of embarrassing myself in front of one of my favorite bands ever, why not just go somewhere where angry middle-aged women can yell profanities at me?
That thought sounded brilliant to us both, and we headed down the street to The Weiner Circle.
Apparently, the Weiner Circle is supposed to highlight the extreme race separation in Chicago. It exists in a rich white neighborhood, is visited at all hours of the night by drunk over-privileged white youths, and is staffed almost exclusively by African American women. The workers supposedly yell profanity at the customers, the customers yell back, but sometimes the customers take it too far and make racist comments. Since we are actually integrated in the South, this is all kind of beyond me, but I greatly enjoyed my interaction with my cashier/server, who not only told me to "Hurry the F up with my order," but also "to make up my F'ing mind", and also to "put extra money in the tip jar (or "Bitch Jar" as is written upon it) because I F'ed up the register when I changed my order." I was also offered extra female bodily orifice juices as a topping if extra cheese did not suffice to provide my item with the desired moisture. This happens to me in Baton Rouge all the time.
The hotdog was okay.

2 comments:

Neal said...

Huh. That Weiner Circle restaurant sounds like a racist version of Ed Debivic's in Chicago... only they used to be more creative with their insults there and rely on so many f-bombs. From reviews it sounds like Ed's isn't as good as it used to be, though.

I used to find the idea of rude servers somewhat entertaining, but now that I have had enough bad service (when that wasn't a selling point of the restaurant), I just find it depressing. Alas, for my fairer youth.

Nicholas said...

Gotta agree. It was funny this once, but I would never want to be spoken to that way anywhere else. If someone talked to me like that in Baton Rouge, I would be out the door clutching my fist.