Thursday, July 12, 2012

Chicago, In a Trice

I don't know where to start, so let's start with some music. Fiona Apple, if she's not too annoying. Her interview with Jimmy Fallon hints at the usual melange of strength/discomforting brittleness/unwieldy underground psychological territory, but I found  the accompanying musical numbers to be more enjoyable. Not currently loving her vibrato, but I like the Roots backing her and I like the bluesy lark of "Let Me Roll It." One could easily argue that current darlings Alabama Shakes blow her out of the water in this genre -- the lead vocalist has soul in spades-- but surely you have space for this song as well?

So. Impromptu trip to Chicago this past weekend, so that I could pick a paper ticket number on Monday (#39, half an hour after they opened for the day; one of three different ticket lines.several of us fist pumped when the counter person would call the next number, to answering silence, after which she'd advance it. Bonus!). Ginger the ever-kind, agreed to drive out with me (which, uh, meant he drove, bless his soul) and we made a fun weekend out of it. When hassle becomes a short vacation: priceless.  Man, Mastercard hit it out of the ballpark with that campaign, didn't they? Not sure for how long, but it has certainly entered the cultural lexicon.

ANYhoo. As with Compatriot, so goes traveling with Ginger, in that we know each other so well, we're kinda siblingish. Think: a bit less foodie, a bit more urban vinyl/graphic novels/industrial music. At one point, during which we had both become entrenched about the better way to approach the subway (3-day unlimited pass vs. rechargeable pass), he exclaimed: "M! Cakeasaurus! You drive. ME. CRAZY!" In rather the same way the famed Honeymooner would say, "One of these days, Alice, Bang! Zoom! Straight to the Moon!" Not that either of us were alive to see such things, but somehow you, know, floating out there in the zeitgeist. We both laughed in an aggravated fashion and remained irritated for only a short while. And by then we were both riding on the El anyway, off to La Creperie* and some solid stand-up at the Comedy Bar.

*Isn't it interesting to revisit places you have tried, in a different lifetime? Having visited this with a long-ago ex, it had remained kind of idyllic, even though at that point, the relationship was less than ideal. Many years on, it wasn't perfect -- I didn't love my savory mushroom crepe, but I would have snapped up Ginger's seafood crepe in a hot minute. The outdoor seating in the back, though, remained more than a sum of its parts: wobbly cheap tables covered with vinyl checkered tablecloths, mismatched string lights around the periphery and hanging plants in various states of health dangling from tree limbs; crepes, the patter of neighboring discussion, a soft night breeze and a good wine selection all combined to whisper, "This is the good life and you could have it."

Meanwhile, the Raffaello Hotel (at which we had the nifty surprise of an upgrade to quite a nice suite) sports one of the teensiest elevators you can find. Going back out on Saturday night meant a longer wait than it would have taken to walk halfway down from the twelfth floor. But it was also entertaining. I heard the women from several floors away. They were post-sorority, pre-Cougar and dressed to the nines: flowing fabric, careful and bold makeup, abundant cleavage and diamond-cousins, if not the rocks themselves. While there would have been a scootch of room to wedge into, a thin woman with glossy black ironed hair slowly shook her head in warning, while mouthing: "I'M. SORRY." A woman began teetering and another squealed as the doors slid shut.

Just take the stairs. You'll get to Cornelius sooner.
On Sunday morning, we were in for a similarly long wait on our way to the decadent Bongo Room of Wicker Park. Eventually, the doors slid open to a solid mass of guys and suitcases. Whatever their purpose, their stay was done and they meant to arrive at the lobby simultaneously, damnit. A couple guys held their suitcases aloft, as if they were bulging trophies. One glared grimly and inquired of Ginger, "You gonna try to get in?"

"Not unless you're gonna lift me over your head," quipped Ginger and the doors slide shut. Muttering could be heard from the descent: "...Because someone pushed the fucking button, THAT'S why..." Chillax, hungover guys, we're just going to brunch. Without suitcases.

Our lovely, unbaggaged Wicker Park Sunday bears more mention, but it will have to wait. My little ranch house lacks an elevator, so there's no substantial thing standing between myself and the waiting bed. Sweet dreams, All.  

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