|Saturday the same block that had been sports bar hell was
into a farmer's market, complete with fresh baked breads, random
fruits and vegetables, honey and more. It seemed like every time we
corner the block was in a different state - 9-5 workaday
business, late night frat boy antics, early morning farmers market, or deserted
save for homeless people sleeping in the doorways.
We trekked around downtown in search of a good cheap breakfast. We
finally had to ask a random stranger and she recommended West Egg a
couple of blocks down. We found it to be a bustling diner that served EM
a delicious avocado and bacon omelet. I went with fried eggs and
potatoes, which were fine but looked like the poorer choice compared to
the blueberry pancakes everyone around us was wolfing down.
We had headed to downtown to see Chicago's Museum of
Contemporary Art. Alas, they had just taken down their Jeff
Koons exhibit, leaving only a handful of rooms showing
selections from their permanent collection. Some ok stuff, but
without a big show up there wasn't that much to look at. We
enjoyed a short animated film by William Kentridge, and
the building is nice.
We wandered through downtown but found it to be full of upscale
chain retail stores and tourist traps. All the fun and funky
stores are a bit further out. Only the stone water pumping
station and tower survived the big Chicago fire downtown, so
there's not even much historical stuff to look at.
We hopped back on the subway, then the el. You remember that
scene in Blues Brothers where they reach Elwood's
apartment and the trains are going by right outside his window?
"How often does that go by?" Jake asks.
"So often you don't even notice," answers Elwood.
I thought about that scene many times as we clacked past windows
and decks mere inches outside the windows of the train.
Back out to Wicker Park for more shopping and wandering, landing at Penny's Noodle Bowl for dinner, a local chain with
pretty good food for very reasonable prices.
with some tofu thing. Pad thai? I don't recall, but she gobbled
||I went with some spicy noodle thing but had them substitute
barbecued pork for the chicken or beef that were listed on the
menu. Really tasty.
|Then we hopped from bar to bar, starting with Rodan, a fine
example of why I prefer Let's Go travel guides over Lonely
Planet and other less-budget-conscious books. This place was
recommended by Lonely Planet, "This sleek, cinematic spot for
30-something slides from restaurant mode to bar mode around
10pm. Arty videos courtesy of Chicago artists are projected on
the back wall, and the space often hosts interesting live
collaborations between electronic composers and video artists."
Meh. I'd describe it as, "Overpriced and full of rich scenesters,
somewhat sterile with pretentious video crap projected on the
wall that could only be interesting if you were tripping balls,
which you wouldn't want to do around these people anyhow."
We wandered on, stopping a block away at Nick's Beer Garden where the
ambiance was a bit closer to our style, something like Northside
Tavern if they remodeled the place.
A band set up, something like "Five Big Sweaty Men," and
EM and I played a guessing game as to what sound they would produce. I
guessed correctly with "jammy blues." They weren't bad, they just lacked
soul, doing mundane covers of mundane blues tunes. We retreated to the
patio out back so EM could get her nicotine fix, almost directly under
the elevated train.
EM finally reached a friend of hers, Matt, who'd moved to Chicago a
while back. We hopped back on the train and rode a ways in search of
him, hopping off at Logan Square where we found some charming bars full
of Caribbean folk drumming up a storm. But we were due to meet Matt at a
party, so we headed off - in the wrong direction. By the time we figured
it out and doubled back and got close to the party, Matt was leaving the
party, back on the train in search of another party. We got back off in
Wicker Park and decided the wild goose chase was more than our tired,
sore feet could handle. We abandoned Matt and his friends and returned
to the hotel.