Tag: Chicago

What Happened to Chicago?

Like a pregnant woman who knows there is something out there that will meet her need,  I occasionally have a hankering for some new music so I  go to the iTunes store and try to fill the empty space. That’s right, I’m still buying music because I am so old-fashioned. Sometimes I find what I am looking for immediately, but there are times when I troll too long, get frustrated, and end up buying something I regret later.


Cover of "The Very Best of Chicago: Only ...


Remember Chicago?  Not the city, but the funky musical group, at least they were funky at one point and then somehow they turned into group whose primary focus was producing music for elevators. I remembered Chicago as I was looking around from music the other day, and swept up in a wave of nostalgia and consumer frenzy I purchase the 39 songs on Chicago’s The Very Best of Chicago: Only The Beginning. I feel a little betrayed and it is my fault for not taking the whole album out for a test drive. Chicago might have had 39 hits but 24 of them must have been hits in South Africa. (Note the subtle Rodriguez allusion that is no longer subtle since I wrote this sentence.) It was like I bought a tourist guide to the city of Chicago that is three hundred pages long, but two hundred of the pages are dedicated to the Cubs.


My ear can pinpoint the moment that Chicago started to suck, it was the moment they decided to stop blowing horns. The horn section of Chicago was great. Whoever decided to replace the horns with a synthesizer should be taken to the Hague and tried for crimes against humanity, and I don’t mean just the person that decided to do this for Chicago, I mean every single person involved in music during the 1980s who added a synthesizer and took away a horn section. It makes me a little sick to think I was somehow involved in these crimes, I listened to synthesizer music, I danced to synthesizer music, and I even thought that when Eddie VanHalen started playing the electronic keyboard that it was a good idea. My only defense is that my brain wasn’t fully developed at the time. I am certain that I could provide plenty of evidence to prove that I was temporarily insane for a period of 10 years: I wore bell bottom jeans, I had a perm, I thought Leif Garrison was cool (this alone would seal the deal.)


For the historians out there, something happened to Chicago around the year 1982 (again, speaking of the group, not the city). The songs pre-1982 are pretty awesome but almost everything after that is bad.  They had a couple hits with Peter Cetera and I liked the songs at the time, but now I am ashamed of myself. We all make mistakes. I am sorry.


The real reason Chicago started to suck isn’t really funny, but life often isn’t, the lead singer Terry Kath died of an accidental gunshot wound. I don’t remember any news of his death in January of 1978. I don’t want to sound overly sentimental here, but I think Kath’s death should rank up there alongside with the deaths of Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. Spend ten minutes listening to Make Me Smile, Colour My World, and Saturday in the Park and then tell me that we did not lose one of the great vocalists in American rock history.


Why didn’t Chicago pack it in and call it good? I don’t know, but I wish Chicago had turned the amps off and left the stage.


Sherlock Holmes Meets a Spammer

Anyone who runs a blog gets spam and almost all of it gets filtered out and ends up in a trash folder. I like to open the old spam trashcan and take a peek inside. Here is a gem from two days ago.

Hi there: thanks for taking the time of creating up this knowledge. I usually attempt to even more my knowledge of elements. No matter if I concur or disagree, I really like facts. I don’t forget the old times if the only source of details was the library or even the newspaper. They each seem so old. Please excuse my bad english : )

SPAM! [don't buy]

Not this kind. 

Here are the facts:

1. The post the spammer is referring to was about a museum in Chicago.

2. The spam arrived a week after the post was placed.

3. This spammer has excellent taste in blogs.

What can we deduce about this spammer?

1. English is not their first language and looking at the sentence structure I would assume they are from an Asian country. (Since there are more people living in Asia than anywhere else, this is a safe guess.)

2. They are self-aware.  Note the, “Please excuse my bad english” phrase tacked on to the end of the message. This acknowledgement shows us that the spammer is not a machine cranking out messages and sending them off into the internets unknowingly.

3. They are happy. The “:)” is evidence that this spammer is filled with joy. Why else would anyone attach a smiley face to their email.

4. They are probably female. Most males would use a winking smiley face when sending spam. The winking smiley face is a little more masculine and creepy, the traditional smiley face is more feminine and joyous.

5. This person is a little confused. One cannot “creat[e] up this knowledge.” Knowledge is either there or not, so there is no creating of knowledge. This leads me to believe that this spammer is from a country where there are elements of magical thinking.

6. They don’t like confrontation. “No matter if I concur or disagree” is an interesting non-confrontational way of saying, “I might just possibly disagree with you, but I don’t want to fight about it.”

7. They are conflicted. They “like facts” but believe that knowledge can be created. This struggle between science and mysticism is causing a great deal of turmoil inside this spammer.

8. They are older than the internet. They “don’t forget the old times” when the library and newspaper were the only places where you could get facts. One would assume that the spammer is someone youthful, but this evidence suggests that they are older and therefore even more optimistic than previously assumed.

Now this is very confusing since we have established that this person lives in Asia, does not speak English as her primary language, is happy, doesn’t like confrontation, is older than 25 and is conflicted.

Some of you, dear readers, are already guessing who this might be and let me just say, “No, it is not Sarah Palin.” There are two very specific pieces of information that point to her not being the spammer: 1.”I really like facts” 2.”even the newspaper.”

Katie Couric established that Mrs. Palin never read a newspaper, and anyone paying attention to the republican party for the past 20 years realizes that liking facts is not part of the platform.

Arthur Conan Doyle (me) will now put it all together for you. One of the overlooked possibilities (overlooked because I overlooked it, making it more difficult for you to figure out what was going on) is that this person might be a recent immigrant to the United States.  They are aware of their weaknesses in English because they are constantly confronted by the mean streets of America. They must live in a city that has a vibrant Asian community (just about any city in the US) but since the post was about The Art Institute in Chicago we can safely assume this middle aged woman lives in Chicago, is happy to be in America and loves good writing.

I think that narrows it down enough. I will leave the rest of the figuring to you.

My Favorite Places: The Art Institute, Chicago

Chicago maintains its reputation as a tough, broad-shouldered city by generously consuming unhealthy foods and living near the farmlands of America where, at least once a year, a farmer manages to get his arms pulled off by some machine.The armless farmer then walks five miles to the nearest farmhouse to call for a doctor. He is airlifted to Chicago where his arms are reattached and he is on the evening news for a week saying things like, “I thought about trying to take the cell phone out of my pocket to call, but I didn’t want to get blood on my pants. I wish I had gone with the iPhone 4s, then I could have asked Siri how to cauterised a wound.” It is this stoic, midwestern attitude that dominates the city of Chicago, at least as far as I remember.  I lived there many, many years ago.

I returned to Chicago a couple years ago to see one thing: George Seurat‘s, Le Grand Jatte. No, Le Grand Jatte is not a restaurant that serves bratwurst covered in green relish and onions–although Le Grand Jatte would be a good name for a restaurant or picnic store–it is a painting housed in one of my favorite museums: The Art Institute.

The Art Institute has one of the greatest collections in the WORLD. That’s right, the WORLD. In other words, one of the greatest museums on planet Earth resides in the city of broad shoulders, stacker of wheat, player with railroads and freight handler for the world. If you don’t believe me check this out:




Judo Chop!



I would have put another picture in this location, but Hopper‘s Nighthawks was on vacation in Boston when I visited.  Instead I will leave a large blank space here to represent my bitterness and anger after I discovered the painting was on loan and I would just have to live with it.










I spent four hours in the museum. I wish I had set aside a full day because the four hours I had allotted myself was not enough.  I sprinted through the collection and didn’t really have a chance to savor the paintings like the true art connoisseur that I am, and I am not in great shape so four hours of walking fast wore me out.

So if you are visiting Chicago after pulling your arms off, or just on a regular vacation, you owe it to your eyeballs to go to The Art Institute, it is one of my favorite places.

%d bloggers like this: