Archive for the ‘Chicago Sightseeing’ Category


Saturday, December 10th, 2011

Last night, Andy Warhol’s Empire, an eight hour 1964 film consisting of a single shot of the Empire State Buliding, was projected in its entirety from the Modern Wing of the Art Institute onto the Aon Building in downtown Chicago.

Mom’s Visit

Monday, October 4th, 2010

Mom Chicago

Last week, my mom visited us for the first time. Even though she had visited the Windy City when she was a child, she hadn’t seen Chicago as the modern, world-class city it is today.

Since she was arriving at night, I knew I had the perfect opportunity to show off one of the best views of the city at the Museum Campus. If I had a wide angle lens and the ability to use a long exposure, this photo would look quite impressive:
city at night

Afterward, we had a nice meal in our neighborhood at Feast, where I forewarned her that tomorrow we would be doing a lot of walking. I wouldn’t be kidding.

The next morning, we fueled up before our big day at our favorite breakfast spot, Toast. My mom went with my recommendation, the pancakes with mascarpone and toasted pine nuts. Here she is about to enjoy them:

pancakes toast

So good. And since Toast is so filling, we were good until dinner time. We proceeded to walk off our meal, first checking out a garage sale near the Damen Blue Line, and then getting on the train to venture downtown.

The next few hours were spent shopping on State Street. Apryl had some ideas, including the massive Filene’s Basement and the beautiful interior of the once Marshall Field’s:

Marshall Field

One of the biggest hit, though, might have been my mom’s finding, Loehmann’s. My mom has a strong devotion towards this department store. When its branch closed in Memphis, she was one of the last to leave before they locked up the doors for good. She told me it had been seven years since she had stepped foot in one. So, she was a bit excited when she looked up and saw the Loehmann’s signs beckoning her in from the cold (did I mention there was a chill in the air?):


Inside Loehmanns

However, as much as my mom loved rediscovering an old favorite, she might have been the most impressed with Apryl’s favorite downtown spot, the Chicago Cultural Center. It is here where one can see the awe-inspiring, world’s largest stained glass Tiffany dome:

Tiffany Dome

There was also an interesting Louis Sullivan exhibit:

Louis Sullivan

After hours of shopping and sight-seeing, we finally regained our appetite. And, you know that we couldn’t show off Chicago to my mom without a little pizza from a certain place:


After stuffing ourselves, we walked down Michigan Ave and to the John Hancock Observatory:

John Hancock

And here are some views:

View 1

View 2

View 3

View 4

The last image captures the fireworks going off at one of the nation’s most visited tourist attractions, Navy Pier.


On Sunday, my mom and I went to breakfast by ourselves at France’s Deli, which I believe serves the best pancakes in the city. My mom thought they were quite tasty.

Since it was cold, we decided to skip out on a boat tour, and instead checked out the Garfield Park Conservatory, one of the largest conservatories in the United States. It is quite impressive. I would love to check it out again in the summer as well as in the winter, especially when there is snow on the ground. I took a lot of photos so here are just a few:

Mom at Garfield

Hayden and Apryl at Garfield

Mom at Garfield 2

On the way back home, I took a detour to show my mom Harpo Studios:


That evening, my Mom and I went out by ourselves to dinner at Buona Terra in Logan Square. Great food. Great company. We had a nice conversation about our family history over some tasty Italian food.

The next day, I took my mom on a driving tour of Chicago. We started on the South Side in Hyde Park neighborhood, home of the Museum of Science and Industry. I found a rare parking spot on the University of Chicago campus, and we walked around checking such places as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House and the Rockefeller Memorial Chapel:

Robie House


Leaving Hyde Park, we drove out to the far North Side to Evanston, where one can find Northwestern University and many, many beautiful homes.

On our way back to the city, we stopped in at the Chicago History Museum. Here my mom is in the Chicago Jazz and Blues exhibit:


That evening, we rejoined Apryl and took in the sights of Millennium Park:




Afterward, we walked across the street and had a wonderful meal at The Gage.

downtown night

As we retired for the evening, my mom got a kick out of seeing the street workers watering all the downtown plants. I didn’t get a shot of their watering trucks, but here is a freshly watered pot:


The next morning, we had some Dunkin’ Donuts before heading out to Midway. It was a bit sad seeing my mom go, but we had a nice visit. I’m glad that she got to see where I live and work. Perhaps next time, she will visit during the summer, and won’t have to worry about layering up. We could even go to the beach.

mom and i

For photos from my mom’s trip, click here.

My dad’s winter visit.

Monday, February 8th, 2010

The Bean

Typically, we don’t get guests during the winter months. But, for my dad, who actually enjoys the cold weather, it was the perfect time for a visit. Now, usually when my dad comes up, we attend a sporting event. But this time, we stayed clear of the arenas, and instead entertained ourselves with a series of tourist stops and dining adventures.

Below are some photos from my dad’s visit:

My dad shows off his Chicken Parmigiana from Da Luciano, a small Italian restaurant that known for having a separate, gluten-free kitchen.

Dan's Tackle Shop

Here’s my dad at Dan’s Tackle Service, an oddity of a fishing store found right in our neighborhood. My dad and Dan had a nice conversation about Arkansas fishing.

Art Museum

During the entire month of February, admission is free at the Art Institute of Chicago. As you can see, we took advantage of it. My favorite thing my dad said, while staring at Grant Wood’s American Gothic, was “this is the only one? This isn’t a copy?” Nope, it’s the real deal.


We finally ate at a Rick Bayless restaurant. The above photo is my chicken chorizo tacos from Frontera Fresco, located on the 7th floor of Macy’s (once Marshall Fields) on State Street.

Chicago Cultural Center

On the left hand frame, you can see Apryl sharing information to my Dad about the Chicago Cultural Center.

WIllis Tower

Towards the end of our day on Saturday, we went to the SkyDeck at Willis Tower (better known at Sear’s Tower). This was our visit after the inclusion of The Ledge. My dad would not step foot out there for nothing. But Apryl and I did…

And, a short video:

Oh, and, I suppose I should share the view:

On Sunday, my dad and I visited the Chicago History Museum. Below, my dad points to where his seats were when he attend a White Sox game during a business trip in the 70’s at Old Comiskey Park.

Good seats!

Later that day, my dad and I ventured over to Montrose Harbor and caught this amazing view:

We also saw a few ice fishers:

That evening we watched the Saints win over the Colts while eating Chicago deep dish pizza from Lou Malnatis. Sorry, no evidence of this taking place.

On Monday morning, before my dad’s flight back home, we enjoyed a Chicago breakfast institute, Ann Sather. Below, their famous cinnamon rolls:

As always, it was nice spending time with my dad. I was hoping we would have snow blanketed over the city for him, but most of it was melted. There were a little flurries on his first night in town, but nothing compared to the 14 inches we are expected to have tonight, or the 8 inches expected when he arrived back in Memphis. Until next time…

Check out all the photos here.

End of the Year (Decade)

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

It was great seeing everyone during the holidays! Hope everyone has a fun, safe New Year’s Eve celebration. Seeing as it will be 13 degrees outside tonight, I feel like we’ll be hanging out in our cozy apartment. Goodbye, Decade!

Top 10 Concerts of 2009

10. Ingrid Filter at Millennium Park (open rehearsal)
9. Nomo at Millennium Park
8. Josh Ritter at The Metro
7. The Feelies at Millennium Park
6. Junior Boys at Wicker Park Festival
5. The Dirty Projectors at Millennium Park
4. Lou Reed at Lollapalooza
3. Various Artists at Pitchfork Music Festival
2. SHELebration (with Bobby Bare Sr., Bonnie Prince Billy, Bobby Bare Jr.) at Millennium Park
1. Leonard Cohen at Chicago Theatre

As you can see, we really like to take advantage of the free concerts in Millennium Park. And if you remember, I merely caught the Lou Reed set at Lolla from outside the gates, and we won two free tickets for the Ritter one. In fact, the only shows that we actually paid for in 2009 were Pitchfork and Leonard Cohen. Worth every penny!

Top 10 Favorite Songs of 2009

10. The Pains of Being Pure At Heart – The Tenure Itch
9. Akron/Family – River
8. Bill Callahan – Too Many Birds
7. The Dirty Projectors – Two Doves
6. Great Lake Swimmers – Pulling On A Line
5. Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros – Home
4. Cass McCombs – Harmonia
3. Junior Boys – Dull To Pause
2. Elvis Perkins In Dearland – Doomsday
1. Animal Collective – Taste

My Top 5 Favorite Risk Taking Records of 2009

5. Sufjan Stevens – The BQE
4. Oneida – Rated 0
3. Julianna Barwick – Florine
2. Yonlu – A Society In Which No Tear Is Shed is Inconceivably Mediocre
1. Jim O’ Rourke – The Visitor

UPDATE – How could I forget Charles Spearin’s The Happiness Project?

While I was working in Shreveport, I listened almost excusively to jazz records. Below is a list of albums I listened the most (without listing multiple albums from one artist):

Top 10 Jazz Albums

10. Dave Douglas – Keystone
9. Keith Jarrett – The Koln Concert
8. Herbie Hancock – Fat Albert Rotunda
7. Phineas Newborn Jr. – Harlem Blues
6. Craig Taborn – Junk Magic
5. Thelonious Monk – Straight, No Chaser
4. Bill Evans – Everybody Digs Bill Evans
3. Sun Ra – Sound of Joy
2. Charles Mingus – Right Now: Live at the Jazz Workshop
1. Miles Davis – In a Silent Way

Top 5 Places Visited (work and non work related) in 2009

5. Cleveland, OH (Because of work I can now say that I have been… twice.)
4. Arlington, TX (The last baseball game I saw of the `09 season, Ranges vs. Mariners.)
3. Birmingham AL (Rickwood Classic!)
2. Salt Lake City, UT (Breathtaking…)
1. Fountain City, WI/Wabasha, MN (3rd Anniversary!)
Honorable Mention: Shreveport, LA (After spending two months working there, I have a bit of a soft spot for it.)

Top 10 Tourists Stops of 2009 (in no particular order)

Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago History Museum
John Hancock Observatory
The National Eagle Center
Shreveport Municipal Memorial Auditorium
Great River Bluffs State Park in MN
Rock in the House
Garvin Heights in Winona, WI
Rickwood Classic
Harry Potter Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry

Top 5 Favorite Food Photos of 2009

Mushroom Soup

5. Our anniversary main dish was okay. But this mushroom soup starter was amazing!


4. Giordano’s – What would a food list be without Deep Dish pizza?

Sox Dog

3. The Cell – This is what baseball tastes like!


2. Bar B Que Shop – The best BBQ in the world!


1. Toast – When I die, I hope these pumpkin pancakes are waiting for me.

Top 5 Most Memorable Jobs 2009

5. Public Enemies junket at Union Station
4. Food Dude at Lou Malnati’s
3. Oprah interviews Charlie Nash
2. Bulls vs. Celtics Playoffs
1. The movie in Shreveport, LA and Salt Lake City

Grandma Jackson

Most Memorable Moment of 2009
Easy. Grandma Jackson visits Chicago.

Top 5 Favorite Personal Photos of 2009 (in no order)

Ryan Field

Hancock View

Lock and Dam


A different type of view.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Sure, the John Hancock Observatory has an amazing view. But does it have the Ledge? Well, the skydeck at the Sears Tower (soon to be known as Willis Tower) does. What’s the Ledge? Well, the ledge is a sectioned walking space that juts out from the side of the building, completely surrounded with see through glass, giving one bold soul the chance to “levitate” 1,300 plus feet above the ground. To get a better idea of what I mean check out this Tribune article.

Unfortunately, the Ledge wasn’t open to the public last week when Brad was in town. But it will be there for our next visitor! Would you be brave enough to walk inside the Ledge?

Brad visits Chicago.

Wednesday, July 1st, 2009

Brad in Chicago

Did I mention that my good friend Brad came to visit last week? I first met Brad in Memphis where we spent many hours watching the Grizzlies, playing pool, and hanging out here. Brad now lives in Nashville. We make every effort to see him whenever we’re in the Music City area visiting my sister. When we saw Brad last, he told us he was planning on paying us a visit real soon. True to his word, Brad was checking into our guest room three weeks later.

Since he was only here for three days, we were only able to scratch the surface at what Chicago has to offer. But nevertheless, we had a lot of fun. And since Brad is a professional photographer, I was able to use the opportunity to be the shutterbug that I am. Here are a few photos from past week:

Chicago Skyline

One of the first places I took him was the Museum Campus where one can catch an amazing view of the Chicago skyline. I’m posting my photo but it doesn’t compare to the panoramic one Brad created in Photoshop.

U of Chicago

Afterward, we headed south on Lake Shore Drive towards Hyde Park. I knew that he wanted to check out the Museum of Science and Industry. Not for the exhibits but for the building itself since it was a part of the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893. While we were in the neighborhood, he also wanted to check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House. We also explored the beautiful University of Chicago campus. Check out the overgrowth on the buildings in the photo above!

After we spent several hours in Hyde Park, we ventured downtown for dinner and a free concert a Millennium Park (see post below). Afterwards, along with Apryl, we walked Michigan Avenue to the John Hancock Observatory. Between the Sears Tower and the Hancock, the Hancock is my favorite in that it provides a grander view of the city.

However, Apryl and I were a bit shocked at all the additions since the last time we had been to the Hancock with Apryl’s mom. Now, there is a free audio headset provided where as David Schwimmer gives you a tour of the many sights. Also, there is a coffee shop with even a few tables. And at all times, you are being serenaded with bad pop music through the speaker system. Still, you can’t beat that view. See below:

Chicago view

I have to say, I was proud of my new camera. A shot as sharp as the one above wouldn’t have been possible with my previous Canon Power Shot.


Here is a shot looking north at Lake Shore Drive.

On that first day, we did a lot of walking. On our way back home, we walked through Millennium Park once more and I grabbed this shot from the garden.

garden city

Not only was there a lot of walking, but there was a lot of heat. This was literally the first week of summer and it felt like it for sure. For Brad’s entire trip, the highs were in the upper 90’s. As I explained to him, though, the next week’s highs might be in the 70’s. Sure enough, that’s just what happened.

hot dougs

The next day I took Brad to one of my favorite places to get a hot dog, Hot Dougs. I have heard of folks waiting hours in line to get their hands on a Hot Doug dog. There was a line when we arrived but we luckily made it through in less than twenty minutes.

Brad and Hot Dougs

I believe it’s safe to say Brad thought the dog was worth the wait. What’s funny about this photo is that he’s holding a ketchup bottle in his left hand. Putting ketchup on a Chicago hot dog is a real no no. And I can assure you that Brad followed the long Chicago tradition, and used the ketchup only for his fries.


The White Sox happened to be in town playing against the number one team in baseball, the Dodgers. So I got us some upper deck seats, and we headed out to he ballpark. But first, we made a pit stop at Chinatown. Chinatown is only one train stop from the Sox stadium, so we took in some sights and grabbed dinner.

sox and dodgers

At the game, Brad confessed to me that this was his first attended Major League baseball game. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a well played one for the Sox. When Sox manager Ozzie Guillen was asked, after the series wrapped up, why the attendance was so low for the Dodgers games, he responded “because our fans are not stupid like Cubs fans. They know we’re [insert expletive here].” Still, after that loss, the Sox have won 6 out of their last 7 games. And as amazing at it sounds, the Sox are currently in 2nd place in the AL Central Division.

Sox view

This is the view you see as you’re leaving the Sox stadium.

That night we lived up old times at The Map Room. So much so, that we slept in on his last day, and barely got in a lunch before we had to head out to the Midway airport. Still, it was a great time spent with an old friend.

You can check more photos from Brad’s visit here.

The Modern World.

Wednesday, May 20th, 2009

Yesterday, Apryl and I took advantage of Free Week over at the Art Institute as the museum was celebrating the opening of its Modern Wing. The new addition of 264,000 square feet makes it the second largest art museum in the country!

Inside the new space, one can find contemporary art from 1960, early 20th century European art, new photography, architecture and design, and video media. The best part, which we didn’t get to try out, was the Nichols Bridgeway which is a walkway from Millennium Park to the third floor of the Modern Wing. No wait, the best part was that it was free! Check out photos from our trip:

The third floor entrance from the Nichols Bridgeway.

Inside the Modern Wing.

Jeff Wall’s The Flooded Grave. Silver dye-bleach transparency in an aluminum light box.

Apryl walking on the second floor of the Modern Wing.

In contemporary art from 1945-1960. Of course, this is Jackson Pollock. Greyed Rainbow is the title.

Apryl inside the contemporary art after 1960 section. Check out the Elvis Warhol!

David Hockney’s American Collectors.

More Warhol.

Roy Lichtenstein’s Brushstroke with Spatter.

Hey, I wonder why I like this one so much???

Two Candles from Gerhard Richter. Seem familiar?


Perhaps, this is why.

Inside the early 20th century European section. Above, Matisse’s Bathers by a River.

The Old Guitarist from Pablo Picasso.

They even had this maquette from Pablo Picasso of the 50 foot tall, 162 tons sculpture which was commissioned by the original Mayor Daley. Today, it can be seen at Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago.

Full photostream found here.

Cubs vs. Giants – Attended Game #4 (5/5/09)

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Cubs 2, Giants 6

For my fourth attended game of the baseball season, I had some guests. Actually, the game was an anniversary gift from Stephanie (my sister-in-law) to her baseball lovin’ husband, Adam. Apryl and I just tagged along. Steph and Adam had only arrived in Chicago that morning, and they were already at the ballpark a few hours afterward. I love that! As you can see from the photo above, we had nice seats in the 200 section of the park. Adam and I sat next to each other, which was fun getting the chance to sit next to a fellow fan of the diamond. Adam was even keeping score which I haven’t done since I was a kid watching ballgames at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. Somewhere I have a scorecard of a game with Dale Murphy on the Braves and Will Clark and Kevin Mitchell on the Giants. Remember them?


– Speaking of former players, watching the Giants out on the field reminded me of another player for the Orange and Black. Greg Litton, a distant cousin of mine, was on the Giants’ roster for three years. He was on the Giants when the team made it to the `89 World Series (aka The Battle of the Bay) against the Oakland A’s. He even hit a 2-run home run in Game 4 of the series! Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough. The A’s wound up winning that game and sweeping the series. Of course, the World Series that year was most remembered for the Loma Prieta earthquake which struck during the third game of the series. As for my cousin, he continued to play in the MLB until 1994, ending his professional career with the Boston Red Sox. His best game was against the Cubs in `92 when he got two doubles and a home run.

Back to the game.

The Giants had a very productive first inning scoring three runs off a home run from Sean Marshall. In the 8th, ex-Sox Aaron Rowand added two more with a double. Another former Sox player, Juan Uribe, went 0- 4. Ouch. However, the real hero was pitcher Tim Lincecum who pitched seven innings allowing only 4 hits, 2 runs and 7 strike outs.

As Apryl mentioned in the previous post, there were a ton of kids at the ballgame. I have never seen so many youngsters at a game before, and boy, were they loud! Some of the kids were Giants fans and after the fans screamed “Let’s Go Cubbies,” they would add “Let’s Go Giants”. When there was no hope that the Cubs were coming back, the kids started the chant, “Let’s Go Blackhawks!” It was cute a first but got old fast.

Still, we had a great time at the ballpark. No matter my opinion of the Cubs, I do love Wrigley Field. The four of us would attend a Sox game two days later, and the experience is night and day. I’ve actually become very fond of The Cell, but it has nothing on The Friendly Confines for character. One day, I will discover the character that lies within Fenway.

Here are some photos from our day out at the park:

Steph and Adam enjoying a day game at Wrigley. Adam is actually wearing at Cardinals cap! He’s brave!

A rare photo op. Notice, I’m remaining neutral with my TBS baseball cap I got working the playoffs last season.

The sisters.

Adam gets a Brat with sauerkraut.

I stuck with a Wrigley dog. Check out how Apryl dressed it up Chicago style! Even though the bread was a bit stale and the dog was oddly chewy, it tasted real good!

I admit I’m jealous of the large crowds at Cubs games over Sox games.

“Take Me Out to the Ballgame” at Wrigley.

And it’s over. We were saved from hearing the “Go Cubs Go” song and the raising of the “W” flag.

Stephanie and Adam’s May 2009 Visit

Monday, May 11th, 2009

Last week, my sister Stephanie and brother-in-law Adam visited. They got the ultimate welcome from Eva, being used as beds, in less than an hour.


Adam and Steph with Eva


Hayden was thrilled to have someone who also loves baseball to sit by at games. Steph and I enjoyed chatting and occasionally watching the action on the field. Don’t worry, we didn’t talk loudly enough to disturb people who cared about baseball—not that anyone would have noticed since we were surrounded by kids on a field trip at the Cubs game and a large group of loud talkers at the Sox game.


White Sox vs. Tigers 5/7/09  Adam and Hayden


Wrigley Field Cubs vs. Giants 5/5/09 Steph and Apryl


Steph and I were also super excited to go to Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry. No photos were allowed of costumes and props, except for the Flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. However, you can see photos and video at The exhibit will also tour other cities in the United States, Europe, and Asia over the next five years, after its debut run in Chicago ends in September.


Apryl and Steph with Flying Ford Anglia from Harry Potter


Of course, we also made time for shopping and Giordano’s stuffed pizza throughout the week. You can see more photos here.

Sox Win Opener!

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

White Sox 4 – Royals 2 (Tribune photos here. Video evidence here.)

While I didn’t have tickets for today’s Sox opener against the Royals, I did have an itchin’ to get over to the South Side. So, with about 30 minutes before game time, I hopped into my car and made my way over to 35th to catch up with all the excitement. By the time I made it out front of the park, the jets were screaming overhead followed by the fireworks. Below, a quick video outside of the stadium of the last seconds of the firework display:

The crowd make their way into the park…

Basically, I walked around the park, just happy to be on the premises for opening day. In front, there is a tribute celebrating Sox’s rich history. Included in the tribute, Mr. Joe Crede. Crede may no longer wear a Sox uniform but here at the Cell, his Sox days are forever immortalized!

After listening to the first inning on the outside speakers, I walked over to the Bridgeport neighborhood. Many folks think that the Sox stadium is out in the middle of nowhere, where as Wrigley is clearly in a neighborhood. Sure, the Cell is right off the interstate, and it is surrounded by parking lots…

…but it is also mere blocks away from a quaint, historic neighborhood. Below, a few photos I took as I walked through the neighborhood:

Once you make your way through the underpass, you are in the neighborhood.

I always thought that the Grandstand was perfect but when I was inside, the game wasn’t even on…. What?!?!

This is the nearest hot dog stand near the park but I went a few more blocks to Morrie O’Malleys. Still, I might have to try it out. “Fresh Cut Fries” always intrest me!

The famous O’Malleys!

And, the famous Char Dog!

And, you can sit on original seats from Old Comiskey while you eat your dog!

After hanging around the neighborhood for a bit, I made my way back home to catch the last few innings on the radio. And while we didn’t play that great, we did come out with a win thanks to Jim Thome’s blast in the 8th!

Welcome back, baseball!