Posted by: martinworster | January 12, 2007

26. WINDY CITY

Chicago, my kinda town…

To quote old Blue Eyes, Chicago had always seemed to be my kinda
town – even though I’d never been there. For one it is the
birthplace of house music, a genre which has had quite an
influence over me. On this trip though I wasn’t expecting to be
jacking my body to repetitive beats in a homage to the music’s
forefathers.

Leaving Huntington Beach for our journey to LAX on the 405
Freeway for our 6.30 AM flight it was a little disconcerting to
read the story in the LA times that a flight the previous evening
had crash landed at Chicago Midway airport killing one person.
Great. That’s where we’re going and the ice on the runway
probably still hadn’t melted. We hugged the white capped Rockies
as I looked out the window and dreamed of trips to Vale and
Aspen. We ‘de-planed’ (the hostesses words) in Denver for our
layover (connecting flight).

On the flight from Denver to Chicago everything I did seemed to
annoy one particular air hostess. Not putting my laptop in the
stowaway bins. Getting up for a piss before El Capitan had turned
off the seat belt light. I was on the verge of asking her for an
ashtray and if she minded if I smoked some crack in the toilet.
Or, have you got a spare detonator, mine seems to be
malfunctioning? I clenched my buttocks and grabbed the armrests
as we touched down in Chicago. Upon opening my eyes I realised we
had come to a standstill and were all intact.

Chicago has a stunning skyline which we saw as we drove into the
city. We were here visiting Melissa’s friends Erik and Janice
who were our hosts for the weekend. We entered downtown and had a
drink on the 96th floor of the Hancock Tower. The traffic
glistened below. Looking out we saw a plane flying close by.
That’s funny, I thought planes were no longer allowed to fly
close to American skyscrapers? I looked across at Eric who
obviously read my thoughts.

It was good to be in a big city which had had more than a
sprinkling of the white stuff so was looking very Christmassy.
This was welcome after the heat and palm trees of LA where
Christmas Carols sounded incongruous on the radio and I was
feeling about as much spirit as Scrooge.

It’s a gorgeous city. We saw Millennium Park where they have
sculptures and an ice rink. Then we went to the Chicago Institute
which has Now That’s What I Call Impressionism Vol 2 kind of
collection with enough Van Gogh, Degas and Latrec’s to shake an
oily paint brush at. We drove around the North Shore and looked
at all the mansions that overlooked Lake Michigan and I thought
of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. Chicago has a good comedy / film
history; John Cusack, Breakfast Club, James Belushi and the Blues
Brothers, even Oprah’s a native, although she’s not that funny.

We then went to a famous Jazz Club where Al Capone used to hang
out and it even has the escape route in tact under the bar when
rival gangs or the police would come looking for him. We saw a
jiving quintet.

“It’s kicking in here,’ Melissa told me.
‘Yeah, I know, these guys are in a groove’ I replied, nodding my
head to the bass.
“No, it’s kicking in here,” Melissa said, guiding my hand to her
belly where I felt the prod of tiny feet moving in time to the
jazz drum solo. The baby is obviously going to be the next
Thelonius Monk.

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