Friday, 5 May 2006

The Windy City

30 April - Had a reasonably fitful sleep, probably helped by the fact that I was the only person sleeping in my 18 bunk dorm. Based on suggestions from the guys from the previous night's card school I made my way downtown and checked out the reasonably impressive Lincoln park zoo - a free public zoo with an excellent menagerie of great cats (none of whom wanted to brave the Vancouver like weather but who were visible in the glassed over indoor enclosures), primates (gorillas, evil chimpanzees and a smattering of monkey breeds), birds and polar bears (the only animals who didn’t seem bothered with the weather). The rest of the African animals were nowt to be found but I always like zoos so it was fun. Also went to the ultra modern Millenium Park and the Champs Elysee inspired Magnificent Mile and the very tacky Navy Pier. For some reason could not find the Sears Tower anywhere but did ascend the John Hancock Tower - a sneaky suggestion by the Irishman was to just visit the bar on the 96th floor rather than pay for the observatory tourist trip. An excellent view of the city was afforded from the windows but the awful weather meant that it was as good as it normally could be. Took the L out to Wicker Park but despite following directions to the letter I found myself in a rather dodgy neighbourhood (it tyurns out there are three stations with the same name on the same coloured line - usually trains are pretty easy to work out in a foreign city) soheaded back downtown and popped out of the subway to find myself right in front of Sears. It may just be a very big building but it would be more accurate to describe it as a f**kingbig building - seeing it made me think of how impressive the WTC would have been had I visited NYC over 5 years ago. The weather was very irritating after the pretty excellent conditioins i've had through most of this trip - I know the city is known as 'the windy city' but I was hoping it may have referred to the politicians rather than the actual weather - wind is something I can never get used to - it mucks up my hair, screws with my contact lenses and just puts me in a bad mood. Also, the intermittent rain revealed that the soles of the skate shoes I purchased in london at sk8ter boi Bob's insistence had finally given up the fight - did manage to find a very good value pair of skechers to replace them though - it was very satisfying to buy them, put them on and dump the old pair in the bin all in the space of 5m.
Well, you can’t go to Chicago and not see a bunch of old black guys playin' the blues - tried to initiate some interest from some of the other hostel guests to head out but they weren't too keen - gave up waiting and killed some time in my room and was shortly joined by my roommate, a Californian guy named Joe, also not too keen on heading out but after about an hour of discussing the last legs of my American odyssey he decided that some blues would definitely be in order. Headed out to Kingston Mines where we propped ourselves up and watched Linsey Alexander and the LABB crank out some pretty amazing tunes. He was a real virtuoso and a complete showoff too - thanks to the wonders radio microphones he came right into the audience and wandered from table to table sleazing on every woman in the joint - I find it quite interesting to note that for someone playingthe blues he sure seemed to be having a great time. He also dragged up a guy named Eddie Clearwater onto stage who played a very nice set - I’m not sure if Mr Clearwater is a renowned blues musician because I don’t really know much about the blues but he was very good (not that I can tell the difference between really good and great) and everyone seemed to be very happy to see him on stage. Was thwarted by the L when we tried to head out to see another band - got stranded ten stations uptown so gave up and headed back home.

No comments: