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Even Cellists Gotta Let Go Sometimes

A quick business trip to Chicago conjured up memories of my Wi-Fi Guy trip and travel blog from a few years back. (I drove, explored, blogged and complained about Wi-Fi or the lack of …Long story …)

Anyway, during this trip there was a little extra time to kick around, so I went on a quest for Wi-Fi. It seems some things never change. Millennium Park is still one of the coolest things I have seen. It has this huge, stainless steel sculpture that reflects the entire skyline, and alters the buildings’ reflections like gawky teens in a funhouse mirror. It looks like a UFO, not that there’s anything wrong with that and not that I have ever really seen one. It is the size of a small office building, only more round … and did I mention shiny? If you have ever played with the mercury from a broken thermometer, well … it looks like a huge glob of mercury. (By the way, don’t play with mercury. It will kill you. I don’t know how I am still alive.) People flock to this sculpture to take photos, which makes them excellent fodder for people watchers like me. (Hmmm … no big Wi-Fi access point like I expected, though.)

Dude of the day – there at the mirrored sculpture, some guy carried a six-foot green, inflatable alien to this mother ship of space age art for a few photos. Then as I watched he carried his extra-terrestrial love doll all around the park, taking photos of the sack of alien wind in various poses. Weird man. Dude — beam up.

I saw an entire wedding party having bridal photography shot in front of the thing. I can just image the bride and all the bmaids looking at the oblong reflections and asking “Do you think it makes me look fat?”.

Dang … big day for weddings. I saw another group being photographed on the steps inside the Chicago Cultural Center. And I heard angelic voices somewhere in the building, so I was compelled to climb the marble stairway toward the dome of the building. At the top of the stairs on the third floor was a 100-person choir, jamming on some classical all-voice piece. Since there were a couple of empty seats, and the door was open, I walked on in and took a seat. Did you know that people who are singing and reading the music off of lyric sheets can also turn around and give you a dirty look with out ever missing a single note. They can. Some security person came in and whispered are you looking for someone?

“Well no, is someone lost?,” I quipped.

She sternly warned that the practice was closed. Then how do you explain the open door? Oh well … I sampled a little of their singing on my cell phone and left. Call me an art thief.

This also hasn’t changed — Navy Pier — great people watching and utterly worthless unless you are going to hop on one of the Lake Michigan cruise ships that all looked bored and empty, moored to the docks. Yes … I am dissing on Navy Pier mostly because it doesn’t have any cool places for coffee and Wi-Fi. The Hagen Das (sp?) shop sucked me in with several @ symbols on their door … as if they might have wireless Internet. I gladly plopped down a fiver for a frozen scoop of some excellent Bailey’s Crème cream, but there was no Wi-Fi. How lame. They had a bunch of nasty old computers set up at the bar, for my Internet convenience. No thanks. I can only imagine how sticky the keys must have been at an ice creamery. I draw the line at sticky keys.

My hotel, the Hard Rock is a trip. So overrated, although I salute their effort to take over a historic building and transform it into a cool new property. Dang where are all my black skinny leg jeans? I guess I didn’t get the memo that you are supposed to dress as if you are a rock star, if you stay here. Not that any rock star really would. I have seen enough spandex, pleather, leather, leather fringe and badly dyed hair to last a life time. I went to the gift shop and get this, they didn’t even have a Hard Rock (The) Clash souvenir t-shirt. In fact the young clerk hadn’t heard of The Clash. (Have you heard Cowboy Mouth’s Joe Strummer tribute song … check out the lyrics on line … the girl in the song works at The Hard Rock Hotel in Chicago … without a doubt. I digress … ) Ha! She tried to save face by telling me she really likes Bruce Springsteen. Wooh .. Is that what the sales trainer told you to say when old farts come shopping? I tested her … didn’t even know Bruce’s “State Trooper.”

If you haven’t stayed at The Hard, it is just as you would expect. R&R memorabilia everywhere … perhaps too much. I was doing the unmentionable in my room’s water closet, when I glanced up at the wall only to see a bigger-than-life Gene Simmons in full Kiss makeup and garb peering down at me. I swear it looked like the eyes moved. Oh, but this was cool. On my floor near the elevator was a collection of three bass guitars either from or patterned after the collection of John Entwhistle (The Who). And of course there are TV screens on every wall with music videos playing non-stop. And true to form, they put a nice audio system in the room with huge speakers. Nice. If only the alarm clocks would blast the bells intro from Pink Floyd’s “Time.” Now that would be something worth getting up about.

This is funny. As I blog in the lobby of The Hard, this Asian woman keeps coming over to the lobby. Yes, of course she is dressed in all black. She works here. And I must point out she is not my type, but, she has one nice set of legs. I see why. She gets quite a workout on the job. She keeps turning the miniature love seats up on their ends and carrying them off to the bar in a bear hug. It is a comical little thing … maybe you have to be here to appreciate. But she kind of looks like she is trying to wrestle a tackling dummy.

Here’s another GREAT thing about The Hard Rock … There is no smoking allowed in the bar! Finally cities are coming to their senses. Now the downside is that anytime you walk out of an office building in Chicago, there is a pervasive cloud of nicotine stench wafting everywhere. But, at least you can escape it indoors. Chicago businesses are smoke free. Can other cities be far behind?

I rented a car while here, but could have taken the train. It is a good system … that is if you are up for a little adventure. A transit platform was struck by a semi rig yesterday, killing two people and injuring a couple of dozen people. Ironically, this morning on the local morning show, there was a feature on a home-town cellist — Rachel Barton Pine … who was injured severely by the train system a few years ago. Apparently as she was going to get on the train, the door slammed shut. The trouble was, her cello and case were on the train – along with her hand – and the train drug her for what must have seemed like a lifetime. She described years of surgery to repair the injuries. But she still plays today … Took a lickin and kept on tickin. They make their cellists tough in Chicago.

See the story of the tenacious cellist at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rachel_Barton_Pine

And they make their buildings tall.

Last time I scaled Then Sears Tower, so this time I took on the Hancock Building with the help of an elevator that is reported to go up to the top at 20 m.p.h. I am speculating that it can reach higher speeds on the way down. I believe they said 94 floors … more importantly … at least to me, there at the top on the observation deck, I whipped it out. Yep … fired up the laptop to look for Wi-Fi access points. There were several that popped up, but they were locked down – security-wise

So it was back to Caribou to finish this blog.
But first, a quick stop at the Loyola University Museum of Art for a weird combo of Christian Renaissance art on one floor, and on the next an exhibit of Andy Warhol pieces. Holy Campbell’s Soup! There was a Warhol piece “Walking In The Clouds” recreated to allow the art patrons to walk through a room filled with a floating covey of helium filled silver pillows, that circled around the gallery. Kinda fun. I confess, I felt compelled to kick them though, after the attendant assured me it was okay to touch. I didn’t kick though … and as I left, I read the sign, which specifically pointed out no kicking. They so read my mind.

Time to head for O’Hare.