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

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.

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

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.

The Beatles released their "White" album and 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 was the rage of the fashion world. The Vietnam War grew even more potent and divisive as a cultural force with the Tet Offensive. Lyndon Baines 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 - 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.
The marriage of John Lennon and then wife, Cynthia Powell would also end in 1968. 
 

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. It just started this past week, so 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 DON'T WRITE ABOUT SPORTS, BUT 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. I think he will just walk into the sunset and enjoy golfing with his dad and family life with his wife and three children. I hope he comes back to coach one day, but I have a feeling that won't happen.

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. 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
 

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Concert Review: Ringo Starr and His All-Starr Band at the Chicago Theater



Ringo Starr is a Beatle. He will always be a Beatle. His future obituary will write him up as a Beatle and his lasting legacy will be that as a member of what is the single most accomplished and gifted music act of the 20th century. The only other artist to rival the catalog of the Beatles is Frank Sinatra. Sinatra recorded for approximately 50 years and the Beatles recorded for a total of seven years, so in the end, the Beatles win.
 
I’ve seen Ringo Starr and his All-Starr band before, but last night's performance was the most fun one could have at a concert. Ringo doesn't play for the sake of nostalgia and he has wisely hired some of the most talented people in the industry to compose his All-Starr band. The members of this band can say they played a few Beatles songs along the way. As a musician, that alone must be a moment to cherish in your recollected memory train.

Greg Rolie from Santana and Journey (although he doesn't play any Journey songs), Steve Lukather from Toto, Richard Page from Mister Mr. and the wonderful guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Todd Rundgren are joined on the stage by drummer Gregg Bisonette and saxophonist/percussionist/vocalist, Warren Ham.
 
Rundgren's presence on this stage may be worth the $210.00 (with fees) to see this travelling All-Starr act, so his contributions with the out-loud Bang on the Drum All Day, the sweetly inspired I Saw the Light and the touching anthem, Love is the Answer provided a worthy show in around 15 minutes.
 
Richard Page delivers a vivacious version of of the 80's hit Kyrie and slides us back to a bygone day of great pop with Broken Wings. He is the one man on stage Ringo allows to debut a new song, You Are Mine. A lovely love song that would have balanced itself up to hit status 30 years ago, but in today's marketplace this song wouldn't work unless you had a 20 year old woman singing it.
 
Greg Rolie pounds out some classic Santana songs, including Evil Ways, Black Magic Woman and the always sing-along worthy Oye Coma Va. Rock and roll never sounded so fresh - forty plus years after the release of these songs.  
 
Steve Lukather gets us firmly planted with some superb lead guitar work on radio staples, Rosanna, Africa and Hold the Line. Lukather centers the night with some dream work on guitar.  
 
They are clearly a timely group since the show started exactly on time (8:00) and ended on the nose at 10:00. It was a mischievious night of fun and it didn't take long for you to realize this isn't your typical concert material. For one, they all genuinely seemed to be having a wildly good time and it was obvious to all, that these musicians all liked each other. Jokes were flying back from stage left to stage right and lo and behold, they weren't all scripted.
 
Ringo wants to have a good time on stage and that is what you get with one of his shows. The legendary Chicago theater played host to the 2014 Starr tour and it was indeed an entertaining night of raucus delight.  Of course, we get some of the great Ringo singing lead Beatles songs, including the still absolutely fantastic Yellow Submarine.  Ringo states with tremendous clarity, "if you don't know this song you are in the wrong venue." Could you possibly have a wider array of giddy smiles throughout the hall going on and on with "we all live in a yellow submarine?" Who else could have come up with something so creative and fun without being stupid, except the fab four.
 
Ringo goes back and forth with some famed Ringo vocals from the Beatles (Don't Pass Me By, Honey Don't, Act Naturally, Boys, I Wanna Be Your Man, Matchbox), but he never gives us a 2014 tour version of Octopus’ Garden so that was my big "what?" of the evening, but we do get some spot on renditions of his 1971 hit, It Don't Come Easy and the George Harrison penned, Photograph.
 
It's difficult to believe that Ringo Starr will be 74 years old in a few days. His energy level would rival any man half his age. I didn't count how many times peace and love were mentioned throughout the performance, but in this crowd it seems a mildly ridiculous preaching to the choir test of words and they even end the performance with John Lennon's Give Peace a Chance, although Ringo at that point is conspicuously off the stage.
 
Check out the legends. These are artists we rarely get to enjoy and life is indeed brief and fragile. Thanks to all of them for putting on a wonderful show. Yes, they got by with a little bit of help from their friends.      
 
It’s all fun, fun, fun. Wait, that’s a Beach Boys song.         
 
Good time in the old town last night. Take advantage of these performances. Someday soon, these guys will be too old to deliver some of these classic tunes.
 
Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fireworks! Chicago and Chicagoland 2014 - Happy Independence Day!



Americans have been celebrating Independence Day for almost 240 years and we have been lighting up the skies with fireworks for most of that 200 year plus period. To celebrate the American independence from British control, and taxation without representation we enjoy watching our skies lighting up in brilliant bursts of color and sounds exploding over the various locations across our towns and cities.

To our Founding Fathers: Thank you for seeing past the moment and taking on a cause that became a nation! Take one moment to think of the courage, strength and wisdom of George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, James Monroe, Benjamin Franklin, John Hancock, Patrick Henry, Thomas Paine, Paul Revere, John Paul Jones; and to all of the men and woman who were fearless, relentless and passionate about freedom.

Here is a schedule of fireworks displays scheduled for Chicago and the Chicagoland area for 2014 (times and locations subject to change).   ALL TIMES ARE PM
 
Firework displays in the Chicagoland Area

1)      Aurora, IL

July 4th @ McCullough Park and River edge Park at 9:30pm. There will be a 4th of July parade @10 a.m. starting at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Aurora.

2)      Naperville, IL

Ribfest from July 3-6 at Knoch park 12pm-10pm with free shuttle service available from several Naperville locations. July 4th fireworks at 9:30pm.

3)      Wheaton, IL

On July 3rd starting at 5:30pm Graf park family fun events including firework displays.

4)      Highland Park, IL

July 4th at Wolters field the Bitter Jester Battle of the bands finale starting at 6pm followed by a fireworks display.

5)      DeKalb, IL

July 5th Hopkins park @dusk. Vendors, food, crafts and live music before the fireworks go off.

6)      Kirkland, IL

July 5th Kirkland’s Lions Club on 3rd St. @ 9:30pm fireworks. July 3rd-5th there is a carnival, food and live bands. July 4th @11am there will be a parade.

7)      Northbrook, IL

July 4th parade @ 2:30pm and Meadow Hill Park and Techny Prairie Park and field @dusk fireworks.

8)      Evanston, IL

July 4th parade @ 2pm followed by activities and concerts throughout the day and a fireworks display @ 9:15pm at the lakefront.

9)      Tinley Park, IL

July 4th 8am-9:30pm McCarthy Park all day events and activities, entertainment and food. The grand finale fireworks show begins @ 9:15pm.

10)  Romeoville, IL

July 3rd 7-9:15pm activities, food and live bands at deer Crossings Park and at 9:15pm fireworks show at Village Park.

11)  Lake Zurich

July 4th family fun all day event at Paulus Park with fireworks displayed at the lake at 9:15pm.

12)  Palatine, IL

July 3rd the Hometown Fest all day event will include food, carnival and entertainment. Fireworks will be going off at around 9:30pm.

13)  Crystal Lake, IL

July 6th fireworks will take place at dusk over the lake.

14)  Hoffman Estates, IL

July 4th at 9:30pm fireworks will take place at Sears Centre Arena Grounds.

15)  Roselle, IL

July 3rd Party at the Park starts at 6:30pm at Lake Park High School West Campus followed by fireworks.

16)  Downers Grove, IL
July 4th fireworks show at 9:30pm on 75th and Lemont Road.

17)  Park Ridge, IL
 July 3rd firework display will be held at Maine East High School at dusk.

18)  Lake Ellyn, IL
July 4th afternoon festivities 1-4pm at Lake Ellyn Park followed by fireworks at dusk in the park.

19)  Sleepy Hollow, IL

July 4th Sabatino Park all day festivities followed by fireworks at 9:15pm in the park.

20)  Rochelle, IL

July 4th Atwood Park 8-9pm municipal band concert followed by fireworks at dusk.

21)  Palos Heights, IL
July 3rd 7-10pm at Lake Katherine there will be food, music, games and fireworks.

22)  Itasca, IL

July 4th at Hamilton Lake live music will begin at 6pm with a fireworks display starting between 9:45-10pm.

23)  Navy Pier in Chicago

Dusk on July 4th

24)  Bartlett, IL

July 4th there will be a carnival, food and entertainment throughout the day followed by the Firework Extravaganza at 9:30pm all at 700 S. Bartlett Road, Bartlett, IL.

25)  Rockford, IL

July 4th in Davis Park the Silver Creek band will play at 7:30pm followed by fireworks at 9:30pm in downtown Rockford.

26)  Shabbona, IL

July 4th at Lake Shabbona fireworks display will take place at dusk.

27)  Mt. Prospect, IL

July 4th at Melas Park fireworks will go off at dusk.

28)  Plainfield, IL

Patriotic Picnic and Fireworks Thursday, July 3rd at 6pm at Plainfield Central High School picnic with several events followed by fireworks at dusk.

29)  Lake Forest, IL

July 4th at Deerpath Park starting at 6pm there will be food, beverages and entertainment including the band 10,000 Maniacs followed by fireworks at around 9:30pm.

30)  Skokie, IL

July 4th 5pm at Niles West High School there will be food, games and bands playing followed by a 3-D glasses fireworks show at dusk.

31) Wilmette, IL

Independence Day Celebration, Gillson Park, Thursday, July 3rd, 9:30pm

32) Bolingbrook, IL

The All-American Celebration, Friday, July 4th, 2001 Rodeo Drive, Bolingbrook

33) Frankfort, IL

4th of July Celebration, Friday, July 4th, 200 S. Locust Street, Frankfort

34) Barrington, Fireworks at Dusk, July 4th, 616 W. Main Street

35) Arlington Heights, Frontier Days, July 3-6 Fireworks, Dusk, July 4th, 2200 W. Euclid Avenue 

36) Mokena, Fireworks, Dusk, July 4, Main Park 10925 LaPorte Road

37) New Lenox, Fireworks, 9:30pm, July 4th

38) St. Charles, Fireworks, Dusk, July 4th 

Be prepared and check your community of choice's homepage to verify information before you depart for the celebrations. Due to weather and other situations, this list is subject to change.
Enjoy life with a purpose! Be careful and safe journeys!


Let freedom ring while we celebrate and enjoy our Independence Day! 


Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Best Ice Cream in the Chicagoland Area

I love ice cream. Packed. Soft-serve. Gelato. Frozen Yogurt (actually, I only love TCBY's frozen yogurt - it is the country's best yogurt). It's officially summer and summer is the season for multiple outings for cold treats. I have a deep emotional attachment to those moments when my mom and dad would take us out for ice cream during those summer nights of my childhood and youth. History bubbles up with memories as I dip into glorious ice cream. I have nostalgia for my youthful family memories, but the ice cream is even better today - or so it seems.  

For the last year we've been scouring the entire area for the best ice cream. These are places we have experienced either once or in some cases, multiple times. These locations are not necessarily in any particular order, but if you want to indulge in some good ice treats, check them out. Please leave comments, since we want to hear about other good ice cream locales.

The Brown Cow – This ice cream palace has the single best chocolate peanut butter ice cream I've ever tasted. It's one heck of a creative accomplishment. The ice cream here is superb, but the chocolate peanut butter here is as memorable as a song you can’t get out of your head. Superb ice cream and the ambiance is delightful. 
    7347 W. Madison Street, Forest Park
Chocolate Peanut Butter on the right side!  

Cool Creations –What a gem and it’s a relatively unheard of gem. I would never had known of its existence if I hadn’t been chatting up ice cream locations with the garage door fixer upper.  I have been chatting up ice cream locations with everyone I encounter. Cool Creations is in a an old Baptist church built in 1852. The ice cream is a gift to the palate. Outdoor seating and indoor seating available. 
937 S. Hamilton, Lockport
 
Plush Horse – A great American getaway for decades in the south suburbs.  Two locations offer up a good reason to share in the excitement of getting your calcium. Yes, tell yourself that one.  This is good for my bones! You will not get more for your money than the ice cream dished out or coned out at the Plush Horse. 
Two locations: 12301 S. 86th Avenue, Palos Park (original location)
7903 W. 171st Street, Tinley Park


                                                               Plush Horse Cones
 
Bobtail - Bobtail is pretty sophisticated. Their ice cream is homemade and wildly creative. This place doesn't mess around with second rate flavors. Have fun! 
2951 N. Broadway, Chicago
1114 Central, Wilmette

Original Rainbow Cone – You can’t go wrong with an Original Rainbow Cone. A famous and almost downright iconic refreshing treat in the city of Chicago.  I love to look at a rainbow cone. Makes you smile. Well, it makes me smile.
9322 S. Western, Chicago

                                                      Original Rainbow Cone

Mamma Rosetta's Gelateria – Some of the best gelato you will ever indulge in. Inside and outside seating is available. Don't be fooled by the cup size. This gelato is so rich that a medium packs a lot more than you think. Flavors are all excellent. You can't figure out which ones to go with, because you want them all.   
30 Oak Street, Frankfort 
 
Zarlengo’s Italian Ice and Gelato – This place is a bit south, but it’s worth the drive. Daringly delicious ice treats being served up since the early 1980's. 
257 W. Joe Orr Road, Chicago heights 

Jack Frost – Excellent location for wildly good soft serve ice cream. Their dipped cones are out of this world. Outdoor seating is available. The building resembles a small Swiss Chalet.
5329 159th Street, Oak Forest 

Capannari Ice Cream - An entertaining ice cream locale filled with good flavors. A packed list of events to boot. 
10 S. Pine Street, Mount Prospect

2 Sisters – Custard. Yes, it’s good.  Very, very good. It’s a small location in a strip mall, but if you are anywhere near it, you should check it out.
4734 147th Street, Midlothian

Dairy Bar - The little red draped building serves up some holy cow good soft serve ice cream. They've been there since 1955.
1015 Harlem, Glenview 
  
Oberweis – Yes, chains are included if they offer up the creamiest ice cream in the 75 mile spread of the covered area. Lots to offer in these throwbacks to Americana. The music from the earlier days of the rock/pop era serve as a delightful backdrop, but the cleanliness of the locations and the super fantastic ice cream keeps you coming back. 
3055 N. Sheffield, Chicago
Various locations throughout the suburban Chicagoland area
 
Tastee Freez - Excellent soft serve treats.  Prices are good too. Go for the waffle cone!
2815 W. Armitage, Chicago
Various locations throughout the suburban Chicagoland area
 
Don't fear the chain. Baskin Robbins has superb ice cream in a variety of flavors and they are pretty much all over the place. Also, the American superstar of ice cream chains is Dairy Queen. When you travel along the nation's highways you begin to expect to see signage for the DQ and it is somewhat comforting to know they are there. 

Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014     

 

Friday, June 6, 2014

Long Weekend Trip Out of Chicago - Presidential Libraries/Museums

                     ROAD TRIP

It's difficult to get more quintessentially American than a visit to a Presidential Library and Museum. Visiting the Presidential Libraries/Museums is one of the few bucket list items on my own personal journal of things to do and you can visit two of them during a pleasant long weekend out of Chicago.

While it would be easy to fly directly to Kansas City, Missouri, there is a certain poetry to the drive through large swaths of endless rows of farms and green tree filled hills. Missouri is a beautiful state with lots of hills, valleys and non-treadmill inclines. This is in no way a boring drive through the Show Me state. It's lovely from start to finish.

The trip begins in Chicago and you drive the smooth stretch of I-55 down through to Springfield with a turn toward Hannibal, Missouri. We stopped in Hannibal to visit Mark Twain's boyhood home, but the real destination was toward Kansas City, Missouri and then to Abilene, Kansas.

I'm a history buff, specifically a U.S. history buff, but you don't have to be a buff to appreciate the massive historic encounters at these two superbly enthralling venues.

You can get to Kansas City in a day's drive and we parked ourselves (well, actually we parked with the valet) at the downtown Marriott in Kansas City. The hotel is this side of gigantic, but the service on all fronts was professionally generous. The rooms are large and clean and everyone we encountered from the valet to the greet staff to the check-in staff to the security guards were all kind and helpful. The food in the lobby bar was even excellent.  I still haven't forgotten the outstanding soft pretzel appetizers we ordered while watching a sporting event.

The Harry S. Truman Library and Museum is a short distance from the hotel. The facility is located in the lovely suburban area of Independence. Truman was born in Lamar and he died in Kansas City, but Independence was home for much of his life. It's a large library featuring the triumphs of one of our most to the point Presidents. He was humble and yet he was a born leader. He certainly didn't appear on the surface to be a man who would lead the nation out of the Second World War and into what is perhaps the most consequential period in American history outside of the flush years directly after the American Revolution. Truman famously said "if you can't take the heat, then get out of the kitchen." Leadership comes in a wide variety of personality types, but every President since Truman has latched on to Trumanisms.

                                                      Truman Library and Museum

Obviously, Truman's life cannot be diminished to a few paragraphs, but clearly he was one of the most remarkable people who enlivened the American century. He, his wife Bess and their only child are buried on the grounds of the Library/Museum.

The highlights here are the film, the sections on Postwar America, the Recognition of Israel, Upset of the Century (think Thomas Dewey) and the Courtyard.

The even more intriguing part of the twofer Library/Museum visits was to come in Abilene, Kansas. We saddled up for our journey to one of the outposts of the American west. Dwight David Eisenhower who brilliantly forged the campaign known as D-Day has one of the most significant of the Presidential Libraries/Museums.  The content at this museum is unusually large and you need a full day to navigate the wide array of historical points. Quite frankly, if you are an avid history buff you could use two days in this Library/Museum.  I was mad at myself that we had not allowed enough time at this vast arena of information. The World War II sections were particularly satisfying to this buff. Again, even if you are a casual observer to American history you will appreciate these places for contemplation; and ultimately be grateful for the experience of having this nation to call home. Whether you personally agree with the ideology of a President these places reflect the arc of American history and politics has nothing to do with the libraries/museums.

                                                      Eisenhower Museum & Library

Eisenhower's resting place is solemn and thought-provoking. His childhood home is on the property and there are two buildings housing the mighty and bountiful displays of artifacts, documents and historical archival footage. On a side note, it is a pity Mamie Eisenhower wasn't recognized for her style. Every single outfit on display in Mamie's section (Ike's wife) would and could be worn by me today.

I cried during multiple spins around ever changing rooms and the chapel is a graceful resting place for not only Eisenhower, but for anyone wanting a few moments alone to rest in God's grace.

                                                        Eisenhower's Boyhood Home

To visit Eisenhower's Library Museum you will need 2 1/2 hours out of Kansas City. Then you need the time back. Just allow as much time as possible. On the way back to Kansas City you can have dinner in the gorgeous town of Lawrence, Kansas which houses the University of Kansas. Great town filled with affordable eateries and some nice stretches for stretching your legs on a walk around campus or around town.

Practically everything you witness here is a highlight. Glorious day of lounging in the history of two decades of Eisenhower's brilliant and understated leadership.

On our return trip to Chicago we ventured a different way home instead of taking the Missouri route back. We climbed north to Clarinda, Iowa. Clarinda is a small town on the Southwestern edge of Iowa. Since Truman and Eisenhower both defined or were definers of the World War II era it seemed more than appropriate to stop in this town to pay our respects to the Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum. The Glenn Miller Orchestra was the most successful of the Depression/World War II era big bands and they even were the first music artist to sell a record reaching one million in sales. Miller joined the Army Air Force band and lost his life in service to his country. The museum is a small place filled with music, photographs, posters, films, documents and original long play albums. It's a wonderful diversion on the road back whether you are in the mood or not.

We love weekend journeys out of Chicago and particularly when you can take some luxury time in the good weather of spring, summer and fall.

Take this jaunt and enjoy the history you breathe in.

Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri. 816 268 8200 or www.trumanlibrary.org

Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum, Abilene, Kansas 785 263 6700 or www.eisenhower.archives.gov or www.facebook.com/IkeLibrary

Glenn Miller Birthplace Museum, Clarinda, Iowa 712 542 2461 or www.glennmiller.org

If visiting the Presidential Libraries is on a bucket list, please note the other Presidential Libraries and their locations:

Abraham Lincoln, Springfield, IL
Herbert Hoover, West Branch, IA
Franklin Roosevelt, Hyde Park, NY
John Kennedy, Boston, MA
Richard Nixon, Yorba Linda, CA
Lyndon Johnson, Austin, TX
Gerald Ford Library, Ann Arbor, MI (Museum is located in Grand Rapids, MI)
Jimmy Carter, Atlanta, GA
Ronald Reagan, Simi Valley, CA
George Bush, College Station, TX
William Clinton, Little Rock, AR
George W. Bush, Dallas, TX  


Copyright Chicago and Then Some 2014