I'm back, Bitches! Miss me? And while I didn't take the photo of the giant Marilyn on Michigan Avenue you see to your right, I did take a few of my own (among many others) and will share soon.
Chicago was amazing. After the day job event was over, I moved across town to a hotel in the city's "Gold Coast," a beautiful neighborhood of brownstones and manicured gardens very near Lake Michigan. The Ambassador East is currently undergoing a major renovation, so the entrance and elevators were made inconvenient at times, but my room was lovely and austere, with Danish furnishings and a strangely laid out bathroom (the toilet was set diagonally in the corner). After settling in and having a quick bite at PJ Clark's (yes, just like in NYC), I set out for a Saturday night on the town with two friends I'd only ever known online.
"Are you crazy?" I can hear you asking. Surely you know the answer to that question by now. But when one of them is Chicago personality Stephen Rader and the other is sort of a step-sibling of a dear college friend, I knew I was pretty safe. My biggest concern was not how I would get on on with either of them, but rather how they would get on with one another. Silly me. They had me in common, for one, and a million other people for another. Turns out that Stephen and Patrick moved in the same circles for years, without ever actually meeting until last Saturday. And they got along famously. And I with them. And we had ourselves a grand time in a old-fashioned night of bar-hopping in Boystown.
We started at the quiet and dark Cocktail on the corner of Roscoe and Halsted. After an hour or so of hilarious conversation, we moved next door to the trendier Sidetrack, which was filled with beautiful boys and plenty of poseurs. More drinks and laughs led us to move on, and while I couldn't name the other three places we ended up visiting; I can tell you that the seedier they got, the more fun we had, ending up at a bar that was having a Trailer Trash Drag Night where all the staff dressed in the trashiest, John Watersesque garb they could find. By the time Patrick poured me into a cab at 2:30 AM, Uncle P had had one of the most fun evenings I can remember in a very long time.
Sunday, I surprisingly awoke with no hangover and set out for brunch, again at PJ Clark's (it was close and relatively inexpensive). After a hearty meal of eggs, bacon and potatoes, I got into my head that I could walk to Millennium Park and set out to do just that. Walking along Michigan Avenue's "Magnificent Mile" I passed stores by Chanel; Gucci; Pucci; Cartier; Omega; Hermes; Armani... I might as well have been on New York's Fifth Avenue, but with a Chicago attitude. Finally reaching the park, I took my picture at the Cloud Gate (referred to by locals as "The Bean," saw a free afternoon concert (by a very fun jazzy blues trio whose name I cannot remember for the life of me) at the Frank Geary-designed amphitheater and watched children frolic in the hilarious Crown Fountain. Exhausted, I took a cab back to my hotel and crashed for the rest of the day.
Yesterday I visited the Navy Pier and the amazing Chicago Field Museum of Natural History before meeting Patrick again for another trip to Sidetrack for their Monday Broadway Karoake Video Night, which was more akin to attending a showing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show than karaoke anywhere else, especially during the extended Mommie Dearest remix video. At a very tired Patrick's suggestion, I then headed out on my own to Big Chicks, where I met delightful young man named Tim who spent the night flirting with me and proclaiming "F***ing Philly!" once he learned where I was from. Once again poured into a cab (this time by Tim, who said "You can't walk from frm here -- It's too dangerous!"), I returned to the Ambassador East for my last night in the Windy City.
I won't go into the details of flying home on US Airlines, except to say that any of you who have flown on USAir know just how awful they are. Dear D met me at the airport to take me home and while I will be glad to sleep again in my own bed, I am already missing what is quickly surpassing New York as my second favorite US city (San Francisco is hard to beat...). I know I'll visit Chicago again (I already have offers from two folks -- I'll leave it to your imaginations as to which two -- for a place to stay). And there are still plenty of things I want to do and see there. And I certainly understand why so many folks I know have moved there. I just don't think I could handle winter there. Brrr!
Pictures, anon (and all that jazz).