Oh Me Oh My

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Why I Heart Chicago

Let me count the ways....

This past weekend Earl, Jen and myself went to visit Byron in Chicago. The trip was fantastic and the following are 10 things that helped make it awesome:

1) The John G. Shedd Aquarium

This was our first stop bright and early Friday morning; a place where man is closest to aquatic nature...

....and Earl is closest to the man, closest to aquatic nature.

One of the most impressive displays was the caribeean reef where hammerheads, stingrays and beautiful tropical fish co-existed. They were however way too fast for my camera so after taking shot after blurry shot I settled on my muse, the giant turtle with a bum leg.

He was having none of it but he was too slow to escape my molasses-like reflexes. Another interesting albeit disturbing display was the "shit that goes down when species that shouldn't mix do" room.

Never flush exotic fish down the toilet because they will breed with local fish and make new fish with eyes beneath their mouths, which are hella-creepy and they will eat your babies.

2) Signs

I couldn't stop laughing when driving through Michigan I kept noticing road signs informing drivers that fines had increased to $7500 if you hit a road worker. Is that really supposed to be a deterrent? Shouldn't, I dunno, killing someone be it's own "watch out" message. Are there actually people out there who are like, "whoa $7500, I'd better reconsider".

All over town signs kept grabbing my attention:

Closer look:

I can't believe someone ripped-off my porno with breakfast idea! Now I have to re-write my entire business plan. What the hell am I going to do with 500 copies of Black Juggs.

We ate at this mexican place after going to a bar and I was happy to see that former boyband sensations were still welcome preparing huevos rancheros for hungry people at 3 a.m.

I was also fascinated that Americans have discovered a new dimension--perhaps spongebob feels you up in the dark! Only one way to find out!

3) Jerker - (Byron's Play)

It's not like I was unprepared for the nudity or the subject matter but Jerker was still a bit of a shock to the system which is perhaps why when By asked how I liked the play the first thing that spilled out was "It was difficult to watch". It's one thing to watch someone you don't know play out erotic phone-sex fantasies and threaten to piss in some dude's mouth, it's another entirely to watch your good friend simulate masturbation for the first 40 minutes and then accidentally see his nuts when his back is turned to the audience. In the end though Byron was brilliant; he took a vulnerable, difficult and very visceral role and ran with it. My hat goes off to you as always.

Since I think Earl was exposed to a good 10 years worth of gay in an hour and a half I suggested we just skip boystown and instead just drove through. The street was lined with these cool spaceships:

This of course spawned the "rainbow rocket to Uranus* tagline I knew the photo was destined for.

4) Sightseeing

Byron was good enough to be the host of both our walking and driving tours of Chicago. From standing outside Oprah's Harpo studios and being mocked by a passing cyclist

to posing with the Michael Jordan statue (apparently melting his competition as he leaps over them) outside the Chicago Sporting Place of some sort.

At Navy Pier Earl was trying to announce "Land-Ho" as he spotted the Chicago skyline. His arm was always just out of my shot and I kept telling him to bring it in which resulted in this picture:

Millennium Park houses this giant metal bean. It's actually really cool and sorta brings the open space together somehow. You'll also notice in the background the building with the split in the middle. According to Byron this was an intentional counter to all the tall phallic towers, one metal vagina in a sea of dick; which brings us to...

5) Architecture

Chicago has some breathtaking modern and classic architecture. Every street is a postcard in the downtown area, in many ways it's everything Toronto has the potential to be if only it got its act together:

From Navy Pier you can see the Hancock Observatory and in the fog that tower is frickin' forboding.

I kept picturing a cabal of very powerful people steepling their fingers on the top floor watching the people below and cackling. I however have an overactive imagination which makes itself clear in the next category.

6) Quotes

Any good time comes with a few good quotes. Since we'd all slept like 3 hoours the night before we decided a quick snooze Friday evening would energize us for the night. I however had a random night terror (something only my family has had the misfortune of witnessing). I woke up and was convinced the giant octopus from the aquarium was on the ceiling and it was crawling into Byron's room. I logically start screaming something like "Oh No Oh God Oh No!" before I snapped out of it. As per usual I apologize profusely and pass-out instantly. The next day this was the subject of much mocking.

Mocking was also in order when, while watching a sea of Chicagoans cross a busy street I remarked "I would love to be invisible and see where they go and what they do". While I intended to communicate that I kinda wanted to "Being John Malkovich" into their heads and see how they live, it came across more like I wanted to follow them home and watch them pee.

On Friday night we were approached by a sorta slutty looking girl and her friend who asked us, "Do you think my friend looks like a hooker?" to which Byron very diplomatically replied "We're not going to answer that". It was so "no comment". I of course lied and said she looked lovely so they would go away. We did see the girl later at the club and the girl's dancing totally overrode any lies we tried to tell.

While eating a pint of ice cream each inside the beautiful Hyatt Hotel we noticed a lot of people wearing all white and many had yarmulkes on so I was like "oh it's probably like a Jew convention". Jen acted all offended by the word "Jew" which made me crack up as it reminded me of Michael on "The Office" asking Oscar if there was a less offensive word than "Mexican" to refer to someone from Mexico--HA! In the end it WAS a Jew convention.

This picture spawned the phrase, "Holy Stained Glass Titties" usable in all situtations of shock and surprise: "Holy stained glass titties that's hot!" or "Holy stained glass titties Batman!" This is Byron fondling the stained glass boob, what you don't see is the disapproving stares of passersby.

To class it up some this quote was etched on the front of a building which I found inspirational:

Chicago, City of serendipitous inspiration and perversion :)

7) The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

I loved loved loved this musical. There was audience participation, improv, free snacks, memorable songs, and brilliant performances by the actors. I have since listened to the Broadway Cast Recording and the Chicago cast kicks their ass. While broadway actors are too busy Christina Aguilleraing their lines to show their range, the Chicago cast actually sang and performed with emotion. My two faves were Olive and Leaf Coneybear (above). God I want to see this again I have not laughed that hard at a play in years!

8) Food

Can't write about a trip to Chicago without mentioning the food. I was getting over a stomach flu so my appetite was nil but I still managed to cram in as much as I could. The pinnacle of Chicago dining is the deep dish pizza at Giordano's

It was so good and so filling and so cheese-filled that inevitably we ate far too much and ended up looking like this:

That is except for Jen who has been on a diet for the last few months resulting in her experience being even more pleasurable than ours:

Feel it in your soul Jen, feel it in your soul.

We ate at late-night Mexican joints, Pogue Mahone's where Byron works, sushi, burgers and iced custard (damn tasty) but before we left we had to stop at an institution of American cuisine:

Where I took this picture:

Later I spotted the "Crave Crate" which holds an alarming and sorta vile 100 burgers. Oh those Americans.

9) The City Itself

Chicago is a City built around its people instead of people cramming into an illogically constructed City. It has a gorgeous waterfront, a 24-hour transit system, free trolley cars to major destinations, a bustling art and sports scene and more places to eat than one weekend would ever allow. What Chicago also has is a strong history; not just the standard stuff, but places like Second City have produced some of my all-time comedy favourites. Looking at the pictures inside it seemed like the funniest members of SNL, MadTV, SCTV and Strangers With Candy all got their starts at Chicago's Second City:

Steve Carell and Amy Sedaris used to perform toegther! Oh to have seen it then!

10) Friends

I've gone and saved the best for laaaaaaaast.

Nothing like a road trip and time away with friends to make you appreciate them. Byron and Cheryl for letting us stay with you and taking so much time to show us the City.

Earl for driving the full 8 hours both there and back and in the City and Jen, I'd like to think our friendship has grown now that you have physically assaulted me and I have farted in your general direction.

This was an awesome trip! Thanks guys for making it so memorable!


At 12:55 a.m., Anonymous jen said...

awww jamie. its great how stink and pain can bring two people closer. i had an awesome time in chicago with you 3 guys. i didnt feel like a non-xavier-er at all. we DEFINITELY will do it again at the TASTE! no 'crapping' out!

At 10:39 a.m., Blogger Earl Falco said...

HOLY STAINED GLASS TITTIES THAT TRIP WAS AWESOME:) this was an awesome trip it felt like I spent an eternity with you guys. Every lasting moment was fun and memorable thanks for making it awesome. Now I don't want to see you guys for at least 2 weeks, but sucks cause I see Jamie like everyday FRIG! and Jen is just there hahaha :P kidding I HEART U GUYS :) I agree with Jamie that I've reached my GAY max for the year :P till next time.

At 2:30 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Jamie, reading your post made me laugh! You're hilarious and looking at all your pictures and reading about them makes me want to go to chicago!!! :D

Great pics, great stories haha You're GREAT (Y) hahaha.

See ya later ...xavier... :| ok that was gay...but it woudlnt' make sense for me to say see ya lator gator :D haha..

OKKkk bYE :D janey..

At 12:39 a.m., Blogger Byron said...

I had an amazing time too guys. Do it any time. Great recap Jamie. I was laughing with tears reading of all our exploits. I told Earl, I don't laugh that hard with anyone here because Americans have a different sense of what's funny. Taste is only a half year or so away!


At 3:37 a.m., Anonymous Teresa said...

Super fun times!
That was a great blog!
I want to experience Spongebob 4D!
Y'all should come visit Halifax next!.... it's only a day away. (did you sing that?)

At 9:40 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Jamie! This is Rachel (Byron's younger sister)...I'm so glad you guys had a great trip in chi-town! And you are crrazy hilarious!! Thank you also for putting pics up of my brother...i haven't seen what he looks like in ages! I miss him alot :0( Take Care


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