Friday, January 16, 2015

Eagles Have Landed Not Far From the Windy City



With great excitement the definitive American icon, the Bald Eagle manages to find itself in Ottawa, Illinois. This overwhelming experience is only 90 miles away from the city's center. That's right, if you are at Madison and State Street you can then be excited by the complete transformation of your surroundings.

In January and into early February, hundreds of American Bald Eagles fly into the Land of Lincoln. They arrive in our Midwestern watershed to escape the brutal cold of our northern neighbors. Imagine, Illinois is now second to only the state of Alaska when it comes to the size of the bald eagle winter population.

The waterways along the Mississippi and Illinois rivers provide a substantial food supply.

You can take a tour from the visitors center at Starved Rock Lodge. The tour will take you to the waterway in Ottawa. You will get a fantastic show displaying the mighty aerial performances of our nation's grand bird.

Tours are held Mondays, Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays in January and February. Remember, don't disturb the birds. Let nature be!

Check this out. Love it!

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015    

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Lyric Opera of Chicago - Backstage Tours



The Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the most significant of opera houses on the planet and their backstage tours are delightful. Two full hours with ten stops within the framework of that historical site. You don't even have to know anything about an aria to enjoy the tours.

The building was completed in 1929 (interestingly enough it was the year of the Stock Market crash that led to what has become known as the Great Depression) and its stunning design is worth the time to the site.

You will get an insider's view of the costume area and the orchestra pit. The highlight may be the view from the catwalk.

Tours are offered January 31, February 15 and March 22. Advance tickets are required at www.lyricopera.org.

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015      

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Restaurant Review: Joe Fish

 
As a frequent diner, when I find good, great or exceptional restaurants I want to share the experience. Joe Fish is a near exceptional dining experience. From the gorgeous sea blue hues in the décor to the outstanding food placed upon the plate this 2014 entry in Chicago's food landscape is on the list of the definite do try restaurants for just about anyone who enjoys eating. As we enter 2015, we wanted to focus on a restaurant that opened during 2014. Celebrate the year we are exiting and anticipate what wonderful food will be presented to us during the new year. This River North beauty is a hot spot of good food. The outstanding service marries the food that is consistently good.

In spite of the physical beauty of the restaurant design (lots of blue - it's a seafood locale) and the superb and professional staff, Joe Fish delivers an unstuffy vibe. It's not inexpensive, but based on the high quality of the food and the lovely presentation of the meals it's relatively reasonable.

I'm a bread person, even though I've been trying to take off three pounds for about six months, so if I could eliminate the bread I might actually accomplish the goal, but wait - there is no way you want to pass on the bread at this delightful near north location. Four types of bread are offered and they were all delicious, but speed toward the sea salt with the butter to top it off.

Looking for the calamari Chicago winner. After a search for the definitive calamari I have found what I will label as the best calamari on the Chicago food map (Capital Grille is also a good catch for excellent calamari). Unfortunately, the calamari was a special. Put that on the menu for all comers to enjoy and savor!

The salads are wonderful and the one non-salad person in the crowd absolutely loved the salad they indulged in. The Mediterranean Branzino arrived full fish with head and all and it was de-boned by the outstanding server. The Branzino is a creamy fish and the tastes were jarring in a good way, so the olive oil and herbs blended well with the fish. Sides of broccolini and the broccoli with spinach (smothered in garlic and olive oil) were outstanding.

The Jumbo Shrimp with sun-dried tomatoes and acquerello risotto was excellent and it was prepared and presented with obvious food affection.

Our server was knowledgeable and professional, but we were afforded the treat of witnessing other servers who took time to check in with us as well. The staff were all top notch and well schooled.

The only complaint was a cold bathroom, but then again it was cold out.

Joe Fish has a tag that says "get hooked" and I would encourage anyone seeking out a near encyclopedic doctrine of how to prepare and present seafood to go to Joe Fish.

The restaurant is part of the Rosebud brand and they live up to their superb status that has been around for a long time in the Chicago area.

Joe Fish
445 North Dearborn
Chicago
312 832 7700

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2015



Sunday, December 21, 2014

Restaurant Review: Siena Tavern, Chicago



Gracious service, sleek décor and darn near ritzy comfortable food enliven your dining experience at the ultra-comfy Siena Tavern.

Siena Tavern boasts cushy and comfy banquette section booths, superbly gracious service and outstanding food. The kick-start of the meal began with perfect Butternut Squash Soup. A light and fragrantly squashy soup was a bulls-eye beginning. The soup was filled with high quality ingredients and it arrived in a lovely tureen style bowl.

Both the Siena Chopped and the Tuscan Kale Caesar salads were excellent in taste as entrée salads. The Kale Caesar Salad which featured Rosemary Focaccia croutons was particularly scrumptious. Kale that looks gorgeous. It's here.

The absolutely perfect Cinque Formaggi Pizza was as good as any pizza you could have in a non-pizza branded location. This five cheese pizza was a masterful tribute to dough, sauce and cheese.

The Tavern Burger was hearty and filling (though a bit messy, but then messy is at times a good thing). The Parmesan-sage fries were brightly seasoned, unique and fresh. Shavings on your fries and they are good. Siena Tavern gets the concept of ambiance not only in the stylish design of the restaurant, but there are great subtle touches of style which includes the dainty and cute mini-colanders that hold those excellent Parmesan-sage fries. Loved that touch.

Up the ante on your meal with either the double chocolate Gelato or the even better peppermint bark Gelato. The sugar covered Bomboloni are a rush to the brain and here is where you want to pour on those three options in the sauce department.

Our service was outstanding and gracious. Our server was literally an example that just when you think the world may be going to hell in the proverbial hand basket - you are joined in brief conversation with a studious, committed, hard-working young woman who wants to do her best on the job. She is working two jobs and referred to her mom and a former teacher with an admiration that was so respectful she had to be mentioned in this review. Whoever hired her knows how to be a good hiring manager. The world may be all right in the hands of honest and work ethic committed workers.

We were here specifically to engage in a meal, but Siena Tavern has television sets and an appealing bar. The acoustics are excellent, so even though the restaurant is large and at times loud, you actually can communicate with your table-mates.

Siena Tavern Chicago is a place to go to dine. Our committed review group loved it and will look forward to a follow-up visit.

Siena Tavern
51 West Kinzie
Chicago
312 595 1322

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014
 

Friday, December 12, 2014

Concert Review: Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band - United Center - December 11, 2014



White hair. White beard. It's December. I just described what one of the most successful and yet undervalued rock stars of all-time currently looks like, but even at 69 years of age his wonderfully spirited on-stage style has not been dampened by the years of time. Seger is still the fist pumping, foot stomping roots rock & roller he has been since his first run on vinyl some 45 years ago.

Bob Seger is one of the most definitive acts of the classic rock era. He is American to the core and he is rock & roll at its purest and finest. His unpretentious and non-elitist brand of rock sets the tone for the time capsule of that now bygone era. When people say rock & roll is dead they are stating truth. We will most likely never hear original music on this level ever again. Occasionally an act may come out of nowhere to loose the overhang of the roots of rock, but as an en masse brand it is over. Which is why in many ways this music is still so beloved, cherished and even adored. I personally know several "young" people who love Bruce Springsteen, Fleetwood Mac, Journey, the Eagles, Led Zeppelin and of course the big kahuna of them all, the Beatles.

Seger is a master craftsman and a superb artist both vocally and stylistically. His compositions of thoughtful storytelling weaving us through the landmarks of life (love, romance, work and the American heartland) continue to tug at the soul. Last night in front of a sold-out crowd at Chicago's United Center he delivered the goods. 

His brand of music is clearly the most trusted root of rock with a nip of country and a nip of blues depending on which classic Seger song you have plugged into. He even manages to deliver some of the subtlest of ballads. When he sits down at the piano to intro one of the most beautiful ballads of the last 40 years he shares that this particular song was his mom's favorite composition of his. I kind of knew where we were going and the opening notes served a hauntingly stunning We've Got Tonight. Get emotional time.

He opened the evening with the explosive Roll Me Away. The descriptive of America as a geographical destination as well as a concept is all over those lyrics and music.

His sit-down guitar time on the title track of his only number one album, Against the Wind had the mid-30s' guy sitting next to us crying. He eventually shared with us that this was his dad's favorite Seger song. The guy's father passed away two years ago, but he shared Seger's music with his dad. Clearly, this was an emotional night for many in the UC house.

Seger's blue collar, non-political, non-angst ridden brilliance covered the masses last night while we all punched the air and stomped our feet to songs that have so much meaning. The poetic Turn the Page was executed superbly and it never fails to get me to sing along (along with everyone else in the venue). No one needed a prompter or big screen with lyrics. The words are embedded on our minds, hearts and lips. Main Street takes us down a sentimental path and Travelin' Man makes you want to stand erect and go on a road trip.

He of course, has to give the funders (a reasonably priced show) of the evening Old Time Rock & Roll. It was named as a song of the 20th century. Yes, he owes this one more to Tom Cruise than to his own spirited interpretation of his own song.

I anticipated the surety of a few moments of happiness and with Beautiful Loser I got my wish early on during the near two hour performance. Shy of two hours by only five minutes.

Unlike many of his contemporaries, Seger still sounds great. If you had closed your eyes you never would have guessed it was 2014 and "Bobby" (his mom called him Bobby) was pushing 70. I felt like I felt the night I saw him back when Night Moves was still charting on the Billboard 100.

He didn't perform several songs I love. He didn't perform You'll Accompany Me, Shakedown, Betty Lou's Gettin' Out Tonight, Long Twin Silver Line (literally one of the greatest rock songs of all-time!) or Feel Like a Number (Mickey Rourke deserves credit for the early 80's resurrection of that classic). Seger could have been on the stage for another hour (why not?) if he played all of the songs we all still know and love.

His band (three members have been with him for a long time - Alto Reed, Chris Campbell, Craig Frost) is as tight as a pair of skinny jeans after a Thanksgiving meal and the lead guitarist (Seger's material is very lead guitar driven) is so good you find yourself paying attention to him as much as to Seger. Backing singers are talented and add to Seger's lyrical content more than the average singers on a stage with a lead act.

The J. Geils Band is the opening act and Peter Wolf still has enough manic energy to deliver a 45 minute set.

Seger is a must on a bucket list, so take advantage of this tour. I suspect his bucket list may include Detroit, Florida and football, even though he has a new album out and the songs (he performed several new songs) on it are all worthy of his formidable catalog.

I have been fortunate to see some of the giants in the last year and I say this all the time. Go and see these artists while you still are able and while they are still able. People are getting older and our days to enjoy these people who have brought so much to our lives will end one day. If for some reason I live to be 90 I will treasure my God, family, true friends and the music.

"I reminisce about the days of old with that old time rock & roll."
Bob Seger    

The U.S./Canada tour continues through March 7, 2015.

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014
 

Friday, October 31, 2014

LIVE FROM CHICAGO - IT'S SKYSCRAPER WITH NIK WALLENDA



Nik Wallenda is the world's most famous daredevil and this coming Sunday in the great city of Chicago he will walk 600 feet above the city. Wallenda has practiced in 90 mile an hour winds, so he is prepared for the windy city.

On Sunday, November 2nd at 6:00pmCT Wallenda will go live (if you can't view it from the streets of Chicago) on the Discovery Channel with what both the network and Wallenda himself says is his most challenging tightrope walk ever. That statement is coming from a man who (he does this without a protective net or safety catch) has walked over the Grand Canyon and Niagara Falls.

Wallenda will attempt to walk more than two city blocks uphill at a 15 degree angle which is approximately eight stories up which would make this the steepest walk Wallenda has ever attempted. He is walking from the 50th floor of the Marina City west tower to the roof of the Leo Burnett building. This will be the highest skyway crossing in history.

What makes it even more wild is he will walk the second part of the tightrope blindfolded. The diameter of the rope he'll be using is about the size of a quarter. The balancing pole he will be using is 45 pounds. Obviously, weather could be a challenge. If a storm heads our way and gets the rope wet or if there is lightning Wallenda will cancel the walk. What about drones or nutty people? One can assume Chicago is prepared.

Discovery has had great success with the Wallenda specials. 21 million people watched his walk over the Grand Canyon. In a day and age with no en masse water cooler television 21 million viewers is phenomenal.   

Skyscraper Live with Nik Wallenda will air live across the United States and in more than 220 countries and territories beginning at 6:00pmCT on Sunday, November 2nd.

I understand he is a man of faith. Wow. This is a huge event for Chicago!

Nik Wallenda overlooking the famed Marina Towers and the Chicago River.
                    Just another day on the job.
 


Godspeed!

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014


 
 

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

CHRISTMAS IN CHICAGO - THINGS TO DO IN CHICAGO AT CHRISTMAS - THE 2014 GUIDE


Christmas! It's a wonderful time to be in the city of Chicago. The city's official Christmas tree will be lit on Wednesday, November 26th. It's the 101st anniversary of the Christmas tree lighting.
Daley Plaza, Chicago, IL.
St. Nick will be there! Enjoy Christmas and stay safe & healthy during this wonderful season!

Macy's Holiday Windows
Macy's State Street, 111 North State Street, Chicago
Macy's showcases beautiful window displays in Chicago; and this year will be no retreat from their long held historical roots. Also, make sure you view the Macy's 45-foot Great Tree which features 10,000 LED sparkling lights and 1200 ornaments. The tree is located on the inside of the store by the famed Walnut Room. 

Art Institute of Chicago
Michigan Avenue at Adams
The lions will be wreathed for the 2014 Christmas season on Friday, November 28th at 10:00am. Chicago's legendary Art Institute Lions always get flowered up for Christmas. The wreaths will remain on our big cat buddies through the season. While you are at the Art Institute, go inside to view the art. There is a charge to enter the Art Institute. This is one of the great art museums in the world, so don't take it for granted.

Navy Pier Wonderfest
Chicago, IL
December 5-January 11
Navy Pier turns itself into a Wonderfest each Christmas season, featuring a number of different attractions, including ice skating and a train ride.

Andrea Bocelli
Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
Saturday, December 13 at 7:30pm
Bocelli's voice is beautiful and when he sings Christmas carols you can almost visualize a few shepherds!

The Nutcracker
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
220 S. Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL
December 4 at 8:00pm
December 5 at 8:00pm
December 9 at 7:30pm

Celtic Tenors Christmas
North Shore Center
Skokie, IL
Friday, December 5 at 8:00pm
Bring on the Scots, the Welsh and the Irish!

The Nutcracker
Presented by the Joffrey Ballet
Auditorium Theatre
50 East Congress Parkway, Chicago
December 5 - December 28
Tchaikovsky's classic ballet set to his monumentally timeless piece of music is the single most elegant event of the Christmas season in Chicago. The Mouse King comes to life to take on The Nutcracker! Gorgeously produced! The Auditorium has a superb sound system, so enjoy the music and the visuals of the design and choreography. Tickets start at $32.00.

Christmas Around the World & Lights Festival
Museum of Science & Industry
57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
November 13-January 4
9:30am-4:00pm - Open daily
Free for kids under three
The Museum halls will be decked and holiday singers will fuel the spirit of the season. The sparkle of dozens of decorated trees will greet you at this year's Christmas Around the World. The Museum's grand tree takes center stage in the Rotunda, while more than fifty trees representing nations from around the world adorn the Museum's Main Level. This is a highlight in the city every year. It's so magnificent that if you don't live here, take a trip to the city. If you do live here, then don't miss this fantastic celebration of Christmas Around the World. This wonderful annual event began in 1942 with one tree decked out and dedicated to the Allied troops during World War II.

Christkindlmarket Chicago 2014
Daley Plaza's Christmas Market
November 21-December 24
Christkindlmarket Chicago is a tradition brought here by the Germans. The shopping palooza is a Christmas shopping market that runs through Christmas Eve. It features unique crafts & gifts, entertainment and German food & drinks. German pretzels! Artisans and craftspeople from other countries participate as well. Santa Claus pops up every night at 8:00pm. He is working hard this Christmas season!

Decking the Hall: Welcome Yule
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
220 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL
One of the most magnificent orchestras in the world (get their Beethoven collection as conducted by the late Sir Georg Solti - that is the correct spelling of his name) perform Christmas carols and traditional pieces of music. New arrangements and sing-a-longs.
Performance dates: December 13 14, 20, 21, 22 and 23
Times vary

Brian Setzer Orchestra Christmas Rocks!
Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, IL
November 19 at 7:30pm

Lincoln Park Zoo Lights
Lincoln Park Zoo
2200 North Cannon Drive, Chicago, IL
November 28-January 5
Lincoln Park Zoo gets into the Christmas spirit with their zoo lights display. Check out their ice carving demonstrations as well. The zoo lights shine on every Friday through Sunday until December 27 and then the lights go on every night through January 5.

A Christmas Carol - Drury Lane Theatre
100 Drury Lane, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
November 19-December 21
The Charles Dickens classic comes to life again this Christmas season!

City of Chicago - State Street & Michigan Avenue
Lights! Everywhere lights!
Free
Walk or drive down Michigan Avenue (Magnificent Mile) & State Street (that great street) and take in the Christmas lights on display. Walk over to Wabash Avenue where the elevated train runs overhead and you might catch the Holiday Train. It's a completely decorated Christmas train. You can look up the schedule by checking out the Chicago Transit Authority's site.

Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Show
Star Plaza Theatre, Merrillville, IN
November 30
3:00pm
You can watch the Oak Ridge Boys Christmas Special Saluting Veterans on 12/23 and 12/26 on TLN Comcast Channel 138. The Gatlin Brothers are their special guests.  

Dr. Seuss' How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Musical
Chicago Theatre, Chicago, IL
November 20-29
Various Times

Mannheim Steamroller Christmas
Rialto Square Theatre, Joliet, IL
Friday, December 12 at 8:00pm

Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol"
Albert Goodman Theatre
170 N. Dearborn, Chicago, IL
November 15 - December 28
Timeless story of hope and redemption. Excellent production elements all the way around. Two hour show with intermission. Tickets start at $25.00.

It's A Wonderful Life
American Blues Theater at Greenhouse Theater
November 21-December 28
A radio rendition of Frank Capra's magical and iconic film.
Tickets: $19.00-$49.00

Kirk Franklin Presents Gospel Brunch
House of Blues, Chicago, IL
Sunday, December 14 at 10am and 12:30pm
Sunday, December 21 at 10am and 12:30pm

John Hancock Observatory
Four states can be seen from the 96th floor of this building. Visits with Santa Claus and a holiday train display. Breakfast with Santa every weekend in December and kids get to hang out with Santa's special helper, Seemore Miles.

Trans-Siberian Orchestra
All State Arena, Rosemont, IL
Saturday, December 27 at 3:00pm and 8:00pm
Their Christmas Canon is worth seeing the show for.

Annual Christmas Wonderland
Cuneo Mansion and Gardens
1350 N. Milwaukee Avenue
Vernon Hills
97 acres light up with decorations and a festival of lights!
November 28-January 3 - Closed December 24-25
6:00pm-10:00pm
Cash Only
$5.00 per car Monday-Thursday
$10.00 per car Friday-Sunday

Hansel & Gretel
Broadway Playhouse at Water Tower
Chicago, IL
Various Dates and Times - Starts Late November

The Nutcracker
Rialto Square Theatre
Joliet, IL
Sunday, November 30 at 2:00pm

Brookfield Zoo
1st Avenue and 31st Street, Brookfield, IL
Brookfield Zoo comes to life with more than a million twinkling lights. The zoo has a light laser show, animated displays, ice carving demonstrations and costumed characters (think lots of photo ops). Saturdays & Sundays beginning December 6 and running through December 31. 4pm-9pm

A Chanticleer Christmas
December 2-3 - 7:30pm
Chicago Symphony Center
220 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL
Award-winning a cappella ensemble sings traditional carols, sacred works and Christmas favorites.

Vienna Boys Choir
November 29 @3:00pm
Chicago Symphony Center
220 S. Michigan, Chicago, IL
The angelic voices of one of the oldest boy's choirs in the world.

Christmas in Geneva
Geneva, Illinois (suburb just west of Chicago)
Christmas with 200 shops. Geneva is a gorgeous town and worth checking out. The walk along the Fox River (bundle up) is worth a trip as well.

National Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows
Belleville, IL
It's a drive! More than one million lights. 

The Christmas Schooner
Mercury Theater
3745 N. Southport, Chicago, IL
The story of the Chicago-bound ship that sank in a 1912 storm. Christmas survives all.
Tickets: $25.00-$65.00

It's a Wonderful Life
(A Radio Drama)
Rialto Square Theatre Joliet, IL
Friday, December 5 at 7:00pm

Rockford Dance Company & Rockford Symphony Presents The Nutcracker
Coronado Performing Arts Center
Rockford, IL
Saturday, December 6 at 7:00pm
Sunday, December 7 at 3:00pm

Magnificent Mile Festival of Christmas Lights
Saturday, November 22
Michigan Avenue
Fireworks Over Chicago River after the Parade of Lights

Christmas on Broadway
Fox Valley Repertory at Pheasant Run Resort
St. Charles, IL
Various Dates and Times Starting Mid-November

Wonderland Express
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road, Glencoe
November 28-January 4
The Chicago Botanic Garden turns 385 acres into a Christmas wonderland of twinkling lights, garden-scale trains and miniature Chicago landmarks. Gorgeous horticulture displays. 

Chicago Symphony Orchestra Brass Christmas Show
December 18
You can live through the power, brilliance and virtuosity that makes CSO brass the finest brass in the world.

Festival of Trees
Danville, IL
November 15-19
Another bit of a drive. Decorated Christmas trees and wreaths cover the event. Assorted other Christmas themed activities and entertainment. 150 miles from Chicago, so expect a 2 1/2 drive each way.


Please note: you should check specific dates and times since some of these schedules are subject to change.

If you are visiting Chicago, there are several five and four star hotels we highly recommend:
Trump International Chicago, The Peninsula, Ritz-Carlton, Four Seasons, Waldorf Astoria Chicago, Renaissance Blackstone, Sofitel Water Tower, Hotel Monaco, The Drake, Conrad Chicago

Christmas is a wonderful and miraculous event in history. There is a reason for this glorious season! Merry Christmas and enjoy the offerings in and around Chicago!

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014




Sunday, October 12, 2014

"THE 1968 EXHIBIT" AT THE CHICAGO HISTORY MUSEUM



This clip is part of the exhibit. It's 1:16 and it is from the night before Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee. He gave this speech without preparation and he wasn't feeling well. This was a 38 year old man on the eve of what would be his last full day on planet earth.

THE 1968 EXHIBIT
Every year when broken down month by month offers history, but some resonate more powerfully than others. 1968 was one of those years.

President Lyndon Johnson and Mayor Richard J. Daley (Chicago) 


The Beatles released their "White" album and their animated film, Yellow Submarine. Oliver and Funny Girl were big hits at the movie theaters. Julia featured the first black woman on a television show in a lead role. Twiggy and Jean Shrimpton were the rages of the fashion world. The Vietnam War grew even more potent and divisive as a cultural force with the Tet Offensive. President Lyndon Johnson said he would not seek re-election. Richard M. Nixon would win the White House over Hubert Humphrey. Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were assassinated within two months of one another. Johnny Cash would perform a concert at the Folsom Prison and Detroit Tigers pitcher, Mickey Lolich would pitch three complete games in a seven game World Series (Detroit won that year). That has never happened since and clearly with the 100 pitches only (theoretically) - it will never happen again. The number one selling song that year  - Hey Jude by the Beatles. Riots were happening in almost every large city. Dancer's Image was the only Kentucky Derby winner in history to be disqualified, so the Derby went to Forward Pass. This isn't even touching on hundreds of other events that took place both domestically and internationally, but those stories all exist in this all-encompassing exhibit.

Robert Kennedy campaigning during the 1968 Presidential Election

The exhibit is a must see experience. Clearly, the research of the year (broken down by month) must have taken years and the assembling of artifacts, photos, video clips and set designs take you into another world which is what a great exhibit is supposed to do. The even better part of this - it isn't a political statement.  Just the facts! No one is assaulted, mauled or diminished based on their ideologies.

The fabulous exhibit takes the attendee on a visual tour through pop culture (films, television, music), politics, sports, space exploration, style (who remembers a model named Sunny Griffin?), household items (lamps, mix masters, toys, games, cameras and all).
Hall-of-Fame Pitcher Mickey Lolich

There is a real Huey (a Bell UH-1) helicopter on display and it has lovingly been assembled by 20 Vietnam War veterans. The music quiz is fun and interactive (even though it didn't get the correct tally at any point while I was there).

This is a must see for just about anyone. If you love history - go. If you have the audacity to say something as stupid as it's not my thing - still go. 

The love story of Paul McCartney and Jane Asher ended one month after this photo was taken. Historical bios indicate an Apple groupie was caught with Paul. 
The marriage of John Lennon and then wife, Cynthia Powell would also end in 1968. The end of one era and the beginning of another.
 

The Chicago History Museum is one of the most undervalued locations in the entire area, so make this a stop if you are coming to Chicago or if you live in or anywhere near Chicago.

The Chicago History Museum is located in Old Town across from one of the most stunning churches in America (the historic Moody Church is right across the street - architecture at its most brilliant). Superb restaurants for all tastes are within a five minute walking distance.

The absolutely wonderful and infotaining exhibit runs through January 4, 2015. Don't miss it!
Twiggy - The Most Famous Model of the Era

Chicago History Museum
1601 N. Clark Street (Clark Street at North Avenue)
Chicago, IL
312 642 4600
chicagohistory.org
$14.00 entry fee for adults


The official logo for The 1968 Exhibit
 
 
 
Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014
 
 
 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Concert Review: Fleetwood Mac at the United Center - October 3, 2014 - On With the Show



Let's start with the undeniable. As they push the 70 year old mark or pass the 70 year old mark (depending on which member you are referencing), Fleetwood Mac doesn't need a disclaimer. They don't need asterisks. They are still an engaging and gifted group of songwriters and musicians and; of course they are one of the greatest rock bands of all-time. No embellishment attached to that statement.

The five of them haven't performed together since their 20 year Rumours reunion tour back in 1997/1998. Those were engine cracking performances and somehow even after nearly 20 years since those shows the Mac clearly is back at least for one more go-round of live performances.  New material is being suggested, so if they are all still alive and healthy we may see them on the road again in 2016.

Fleetwood Mac was blessed with not one or even two gifted songwriters - they had the winning lotto ticket of having three enormously talented composers/lyricists. I love Stevie Nicks, Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie's often powerful pieces of prose set to complex music beds. Having seen Fleetwood Mac perform twice on tour in the last 15 years without McVie, it is delightful to have her back. She balances out the band with her illustrious ballads and pure form of mindful pop. Her voice is near perfection. If you didn't know it, you wouldn't notice much of a difference from her mid-1970's voice.

Nicks has been the biggest star of the band ever since their heyday, but what has always made her special is her love of the group dynamic and her willingness and wisdom to not to want to be the only one on the stage. She's always totally present on-stage and her ability to rock out is still stunning. No woman ever did rock quite like Stevie Nicks. Her Landslide and Silver Springs are gorgeous, timeless and among the best songs ever recorded. Her Gold Dust Woman holds tightly as one of the finest rock vocals of all-time and she does that track justice 37 years later. She even delivers a bit of twirling on Gypsy.

Buckingham is one of the foremost guitarists of the last 60 years and he astounds with his artistry. He's the eccentric one on stage and it works. Kicks and grunts and all. Big Love is a mighty tribute to something long gone, but with his gift for showmanship he brings all the emotions back to life - right on stage. Who else could possibly have turned Tusk into a hit song? It still sounds unique!

They play through 24 songs, all of which are highly recognizable (I counted only five notable hits which weren't performed). Their catalog is deep, rich and diverse. With three singer-songwriters that is inevitable. It's an exact two and a half hour show. Every single second is worthwhile.

Mick Fleetwood and John McVie hold court on drums and bass and clearly add to their all around glorious gifts of music to the masses. In the 1974 film, That's Entertainment, Frank Sinatra proclaims "we will never see the likes of this again" (referring to the golden age of movie musicals). Clearly, anyone witnessing last night's spectacular performance by Fleetwood Mac at the United Center could utter those same words about the classic acts of music that began their careers during the classic rock era.

No wonder why the place was packed with middle-agers and young people in their 20's. People looking for significant rock/pop music look no further than the five people who are Fleetwood Mac.

The On With the Show tour just started this week, so the country and the world have plenty of time to grab tickets and go. Don't miss the legends. Memories last.

Set List:

The Chain ( usually, their lead-off song and it sets the tone for the show)
You Make Loving Fun
Dreams
Second Hand News
Rhiannon
Everywhere
I Know I'm Not Wrong
Tusk
Sisters of the Moon (underappreciated rock song)
Say You Love Me
Seven Wonders
Big Love
Landslide
Never Going Back Again
Over My Head
Gypsy
Little Lies
Gold Dust Woman
I'm So Afraid
Go Your Own Way

Encore:
World Turning
Don't Stop
Silver Springs

2nd Encore:
Songbird (Christine McVie on a baby grand)

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

WE MUST SAY FAREWELL TO PAUL KONERKO




"And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make."
The End from Abbey Road
Words and Music: Paul McCartney, John Lennon

The End was the last song on the last album recorded by the Beatles. It is the best album of their storied career. Athletes don't end on quite the same note that many pop/rock stars end on. The Beatles gave up on each other while their members were still all in their 20's. Sad for all of us. Athletes end their careers as their talents, skills and abilities are on the wane. Paul Konerko, a veteran of 18 seasons in major league baseball and a sixteen season veteran of the Chicago White Sox will end his career on Sunday, September 28th, 2014. One could argue Konerko easily could have walked away from the game at the end of the 2013 season, but I will not argue that way. His sixteen years with the Chicago White Sox ties him for the fifth-longest tenure in franchise history. He is second in home runs and RBIs only behind the legendary Hall-of-Famer, Frank Thomas. He is a six-time All Star. As captain he led the White Sox to their first World Series Championship in 2005 after fans waited for 88 years.

I write this as a fan. A fan of baseball. A fan of the Chicago White Sox. It is in my DNA. Well, not literally, but figuratively. My father was born and raised four blocks from Comiskey Park. My mother loves her boys. I shared the greatest moment of Paul Konerko's career with my mom. It was Sunday, October 23, 2005. I was at the first two games of the World Series at U.S. Cellular Field. More importantly, I flew in from Los Angeles where I was living at the time to watch the first two games with family members. Even more importantly, I was with my mother at game two. It was pouring through most of game two, but for the first time in my life it not only didn't matter, I didn't seem to even notice. We had our hoods up on our winter coats and we settled in. Me and my then 82 year old mom watching the Chicago White Sox in the World Series. My mom is now 91 and she rarely misses a White Sox game, although she is now unable to attend those games in person, so dare I say thank God for Comcast SportsNet, the U and WGN.

The Chicago White Sox were my family's team. Historically, we go way back. No one alive in 2005 that I knew was around when they won the World Series in 1917, but here we were. Our team had a remarkable season and they were now up one game and into the second. Paul Konerko who had endeared himself to White Sox fans at that point was up to bat and there it was - a Grand Slam home run to put the Sox ahead in game two. If we could win game two in Chicago we would head to Houston 2-0. The White Sox did win game two as they headed to Houston and they won the World Series in 2005 in a sweep. Houston never saw it coming, but the devoted fans did.

A funny feeling is upon me as we approach the end of Paul Konerko's baseball career. I'm feeling restless, feeling somehow like an end is more than an end. Paul Konerko is the last player from that World Series team still playing as of this season and when he walks off that field it will be the end of that era.  I have never felt this way about an athlete retiring. It's an odd sensation. I feel like there is more to all of this than there is. Intellectually, I know, life will go on and next year I will be cheering on the team. I will hope that the amazing combination of Avisail Garcia, Jose Abreu, Chris Sale, Conor Gillaspie, Adam Eaton and the other players that join or rejoin the team as of April 2015 will combine to win another world series. The concept of dreaming always....

The last two games of his career will take place on Saturday, September 27th and Sunday, September 28th. That's it. I will be at both games. There is consequential artistry in the beginning of a significant career, but there is an even greater art to closing out a career. Konerko, by all accounts has handled himself with grace, integrity, humility, loyalty and dignity in his 18 season career in professional sports. He was a very good player. An exceptionally good player, but seemingly an even better teammate. That is a job well done.

By all accounts, he is a nice guy with a wife and three young children.  He will go to Arizona and try to find something else to do with the balance of his life. After all, he is only 38 years old. Young by almost any standard other than sports. He's got the Gibson Les Paul guitar gift from the Cleveland Indians. Maybe. No, it's too late for that career.

Paul Konerko will be missed. I bought season tickets this year for the very reason that it was Konerko's last season. I will cry. I will stand up with respect. I will wave farewell. I will be in Section 159 on the tribute night looking at the blue seat - which represents where that World Series Grand Slam landed (the last one hit in a world series).

"When you're on the field for the last out of a World Series, on the winning side, there's nothing really even close," Konerko said. "I don't think I've had that type of a feeling before or since."

Paulie!!!! #14 will live long in my heart and in the hearts of many other fans for many years to come. I will take the World Series Champions of 2005 with me to my own grave. I didn't do a thing that season other than relish their victory with every family member that ever lived, walked and breathed. My eldest brother passed from a terminal cancer four years before that now iconic season. He missed it. My dad died from complications due to Alzheimer's three months before the final out in Houston. He missed it. I was back in Los Angeles watching the final two games alone in front of my television. My family had been in their homes in the Chicagoland area. I opted not to go to Houston even though my friends at ESPN said they'd get me tix. For some reason I felt I wanted to be alone. I cried that night. Tears of joy. Thank you Paul Konerko for your loyalty and your long tenure. May you return as a coach at some point when you feel it is the right time. You will be missed.

Only Luke Appling played in more White Sox games in his career. No one played more under the radar than Paul Konerko. He was always underappreciated, but no fan base identifies and connects better to a player. I loved the way he would make an adjustment in the middle of an at-bat. I didn't even know what that was until about six years ago and then I started paying attention to it. He was one of the most honorable players ever to set foot on a field. 

Strong work ethic. Humility. Loyalty. No pretense. Cared about his teammates and his city. Leader. Length of years. Charitable contributions. Teammate. Mentor.

There is something poetic about Konerko. Just something. If he has one more home run left in him (439 is his total) the last two games would be a good showcase to get to 440.

http://m.mlb.com/cws/video/v36552901/a-personal-thank-you-from-paul-konerko/?c_id=cws
This is the official Chicago White Sox farewell video. I cried.

Farewell Captain and Godspeed.

"The Lord bless thee, and keep thee; The Lord make His face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up His countenance upon thee and give thee peace."
Numbers 6:24-26

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014