Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Chicago Trip Day 1 - Pre-Lollapalooza Getting Lost Festivities

Joe's Chicago Log: Stardate Supplemental

I intended to blog day by day for a first time during my recent trip to Chicago. I had brought all the "blogger tools" for a trip/ music festival trip. My laptop, a digital camera, and booked a hotel a poor yet usable Wi-Fi Connection. I even bought a notebook to jot down some notes to make sure a useful amount of my thoughts didn't get lost.

I like getting fresh notebook each new place I go allowing for a new start. Yet I forgot the most important device. The laptop charger. After a bit of camera unloading the first night, I frantically searched, screamed, and then remembered disassembling the imperative laptop components piece by piece to fit perfectly in my bag and leaving the charge plugged in right above my refrigerator. JOE YOU FUCKING WASTE OF SPACE!!!

But anyway, the trip did happen and I'll attempt to give some nice sense of it and felt it fitting to begin with the non-musical part that opened the trip so the rest was basically music and sweat for 12 hours a day.

So we (myself and Herb) took at 6:30 AM out of the world's most miserable place, Newark airport. It was a pretty clean run besides the fact that we both got a combined 4 hours of sleep the night before because of our inability to pack ahead of time. My inability to plan this out was not as bad as Herb's but my packing did include quantity of electronic gear I was prepping.

After our arrival at O'Hare Airport around 8:00 AM local time, we got our experience of the slow as shit Chicago Transit Authority subways which made at least 500 stops from O'Hare into Chicago's main downtown hub, The Loop. Of course, we had figured out at the airport that we had booked a hotel that was basically unmapped from O'Hare so we were on our own attempting to find this seemingly G-d forsaken area.

After asking the transit info guy at the loop about how to get to the hotel, the sir told us to just make sure "and hold onto our wallets tightly in that part of town." Quite the ringing endorsement. After tiring of the subways, we refueled at one of the Loop's 45 Dunkin' Donuts locations in 3 city block radius and decided to use our 3 Day Unlimited Travel passes on a bus so we could see some of the city.

The first picture I took in Chicago might still be my favorite. It was a liquor store/ convenience store aptly named Stop Everyday, complete with our first encounter with the homeless:

I phoned a local Chicagoan about which bus to take. He told us to take a bus that was passing by us as we were talking. He said it would stop running in about five minutes. So we hopped on a secondary choice. This bus did not lead anywhere helpful. It dropped us off in the Middle of Michigan Ave, on what must have been the humid day in human history at about 11:30 AM. As we arrived at a bus' last stop, we asked the Bus Driver where to go. He told us, "You need to go south." Very helpful.

At the bus stop two African American women, a middle aged and a 20-something fresh out of Georgia gave us about 15 routes that could possibly get us near where we wanted to go. But eventually they settled on the 6, which didn't run often at this time of day. Excellent. As this was going on, time was running out. We needed to unload our baggage five miles south then take a bus back to where we were on the subway and take that subway for 6 stops within about an hour and a half in order to make the Bubs-Phillies tickets we had at Wrigley for a leisurely 1:20 start.

So we were destined to wait for quite a while for the 6 until miraculously an x28 passed by, the bus we had missed at the original stop. We waved it down in the middle of the street, and ran through traffic with our bags in hand. We were finally on our way somewhere.

We got to the hotel. It was not the nicest hotel, or in the nicest part of Chicago but it served its purpose. They did let us check in early, being understanding to our Cubs game plight. So we checked in, dropped the bags, used the restroom (which are not available anywhere in the streets of Chicago, you'd think there was a plague being spread) and heading right back to our stop praying for a swift return visit from our bus. It came almost immediately which led to the subway etc. We made it to Wrigley in the bottom of the first.

Here's a couple of pics and then I'll give some of my quick Wrigley impressions.

And here's famous scoreboard Wrigley Scoreboard:

Seating that overlooks from outside of the field. Pretty awesome.

A Nice View from the 400s.

The Wrigley Marquee

The Skyline View past the Ivy

Joe's Wrigley Observations:
  • Even though we were in the upper deck, the view was perfect and as I walked around every level of the stadium unbothered by ushers (unthinkable in the two NY Baseball Shitholes... I mean palaces) I can see from everywhere. It had the old school charm of a baseball park without the obstructed views of Fenway.
  • The fans know and love their baseball. Most fans stuck it out for just about the entire game even the cubs went down to an early 7-1 defect.
  • There is no giant Jumbotron eyesore to give you every baseball stat known to man and the cheesy action picture of each player as they approach the batters box. The only addition is a small electronic board below the classic center field scoreboard that gives essential stats.
  • The park is practically ad free unlike most stadiums that look like a hodgepodge of advertising supersize size filling everywhere the eye can see. You can watch some baseball without the intrusions. There is the same ads on two pieces of outfield wall for Under Armor, two small scoreboards on the upper decks with CareerBuilder, the Van Kampen Tarp Cover, and the underpart of the old scoreboard that roates every inning.
  • Each player doesn't have ridiculous entrance music. Just a nice organ ditty here and there.
  • The 7th Inning Take Me Out to the Ballgame is fun. I was right underneath the press box as one of the Cubs' fans saints Ron Santo led the singing. And there was no fucking G-d bless America.
  • When the Ivy comes into play it's just great to watch, it truly seems to befuddle the players every time like each party of the wall has a completely different bounce.
  • The food at the park was somewhat affordable.
  • The part of the scoreboard that kept the balls and strikes did not put up zeros but when a walk happened put up 4 balls. I had never seen that before. It was a neat little quirk.
  • Wrigley made going to the game fun again and would easily be in the top 5 of the 15 or so parks I've been to.
So after the game, we walked around as Phillie Fans celebrated their win by buying bottles of wine from 7-11, and forgetting they needed a corkscrew to open it and chug it in parking lot.

Myself (in the Padres hat) in front of the Harry Carey Statue (Thanks Herb for cutting off Harry's head)

Even after the exhaustion had set in hours ago, we persisted to make the most of our one full free day in Chicago. We took the subway back to the loop and took a long walk to Gino's East of Chicago Pizza.

Gino's, sadly for a short time, had a location in Northern Jersey, and makes possibly the best and most unique Deep Dish Pizza around. Prep time for a Gino's pie is about 40 minutes but is well worth the wait as your mouth waters watching Pizzas being delivered to tables around you. The crust is interesting yellowish color that is so flaky and airy that you probably just eat the crust. But then there is the giant layers of cheese that just can't be stopped when you are trying to take the slice out of the pan. And if that isn't enough they pour the most delicious sauce in the tomato history. Our pie had onions as well chopped into the sauce. I'm hungry.

Our Delicious Dinner at Gino's East

Then we did a bit more walking. We saw the Hard Rock and Rock 'n Roll McDonald's and explored the night time activities in the Loop. We did the touristy stuff. We took pictures of the skyline and the skyscrapers. Blah blah. But then we headed back on our day's original route to return back in the hotel and prep for the beginning of Lollapalooza.

Herb walking by the Rock N' Roll Mcdonald's

Here's just a taste of Lollapalooza 2007 highlights.

I'm From Barcelona - "(I Have Built a) Treehouse"

A few prepubescent tweens covering a Bloc Party, Smoosh's "This Modern Love"

To Be Continued...

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