Monday (3/9/09) 2:00pm - ... wherein Peter is going to Chicago.
As I mentioned before, I'm tentatively planning a big trip to Chicago in a couple of months. I've been meaning to visit the city forever, and work is forcing me to take a couple of weeks of vacation this summer.
My main excuse for visiting Chicago in early May is that they are hosting the annual BluesShout blues-dancing event from May 1 to May 3. People might recall that I attended this last year, when it was in San Francisco. "But Peter, didn't you have a lousy time at BluesShout?" On balance, yeah, I did. But my approach this time will be to just attend the evening dances instead of going the whole workshop-contests-dances-marathon-of-exhaustion route. I figure I'll purchase their "after 4pm" pass when they go on sale on the 20th. I can spend the day just doing touristy things, drop by the dances at night, and generally have a more relaxed time.
And if I have a crappy time at the dances, I can just bail on that and find other stuff to do.
Really, there should be ample amounts of 'other stuff to do'. For one thing, I'll be visiting people up in Chicago. My brother Hartwell has lived in the city for over ten years now, and I think I've only visited him there once. apthorpe and thispuppetlife have lived there since November, too.
For another thing, I've never really made a proper 'improv pilgrimage' to Chicago -- that is to say, I haven't visited the city in the nine (!) years I've been doing improv. Unfortunately, the Chicago Improv Festival is a full two weeks before BluesShout (hmph), but I assume there's a lot of improv to see there even on a non-festival week. If they have improv jams in Chicago, I could try attending one of those -- I'm sure the experience would be full of blind terror, but it would give me something to blog about.
I also need to sort out attending a taping of "Wait, Wait... Don't Tell Me". According to their ticketing site, tapings are on Thursday and tickets are $22. Apparently tickets go on sale "roughly six weeks in advance", and (from the looks of it) sell out within a couple of weeks of that.
I suppose I should gather information about other touristy things to do in Chicago, and perhaps gather food recommendations as well. Trips where I show up with no idea what I want to do tend to go badly for me.
Finally, I need to sort out how long I'll stay in Chicago. I suspect I'll stay there for longer than just the dance weekend, so I'll probably add a few days either before or after the big blues event. IIRC, my sister and her husband are planning a trip to Boston the following weekend (attending a conference, visiting some mutual friends), and wondered if I could meet them there -- perhaps I'll stay a few days after in Chicago, and then fly from there to Boston.
If you're looking for things to do, one of Capone's speakeasies, The Green Mill, is still going as a jazz club, and Patricia Barber has a regular Monday night gig there. (If you don't know the name, remind me the next time I'm deejaying - either Patrick or Keith, I forget which, plays a lot of her stuff at KBB).
My teen-aged self recommends the museum of science and industry. More recently I went to the Zoo with the kiddies and found it to be pleasant. If you want I can give you Martin's contact info - he and his wife live downtown, close to lakeshore drive, and I'm sure he'd have lots of recommendations.
I enjoyed the Museum of Science and Industry and Shedd Aquarium. I wasn't as impressed by the Natural History museum, but I blame that more on my lack of interest in such things than on the museum itself. (Although, now that I think about it, they had the Lions of Tsavo exhibit which brought out the OMG BIG KITTIES! geek in me.)
Ah boo! Though I live in Chicago, I will not be there then. However.... For dancing, check windyhop.org for weekly and special events, but typically Monday at the Fizz are popular, as is Frankie's Blues Room on Wednesdays. Friday Java Jive at UoC is free but fluctuates between really good and really bad. The Green Mill is kind of hard to get to unless you have a car. The Drake hotel has been having Saturday events... very classy.
Wait Wait don't tell me is amazing, and you should have no problem getting tickets a week or two in advance.
You might enjoy Steppenwolf theater. The museums are all good, though can get pricey.
For food I recommend: Vosges chocolate (brown line Armitage stop), Intelligentsia coffee, Bongo Room (best breakfast ever - roosevelt stop), Joy Yees (china town)
And though it's kind of random, the Green City Market might be running as usual (saturday mornings) by May. They have live music, and obviously lots of food. It's in Lincoln park so it's a nice place to spend the morning, grab a coffee, etc.