Jul 26, 2011

Meet Me in Chicago

Meet me in Chicago
Down by the waterline.
You stepped across the gold coast
Stepped into this heart of mine
--"Chicago" by Mat Kearney

She's from Cincinnati, I'm from Portland, but Chicago. . .Chicago is our city, the one that belongs to us.
Our city of Chicago, as seen from our room at the Fairmont. Tuesday, July 5, 2011
Chicago has long been a part of the mythology of our relationship.   We'd both been there countless times before we met with various would-be lovers and friends & aquaintances of the moment.  But when we started dating, Chicago was never far away.  The Big City, a mere a hour and a half from Andrews University, where we could go on Big City Dates.  Some of my favorite memories of our early years of dating and marriage are set in the Windy City.  There was the weekend of my friend Kim's wedding.  The wedding was actually held in Atlanta, it's our time in Chicago that really sticks in my memory.   We stayed in Kim's Irving Park apartment the night before our flight to Atlanta--it was like a taste of romantic urban life.  And when we flew back into to town we decided to spend the day walking the city's blustery streets and warming ourselves with hot coffee at a Brother's coffee shop on Michigan Avenue.  We got lost trying to find our way out of the city, and even that was a treasured moment.  The two of us, out in the bustling metropolis, finding our way.

And then there was our wedding night.  The first night of our honeymoon found us back in Chicago, celebrating the beginning of our life together in the luxurious Fairmont Hotel within sight of Navy Pier and Grant Park.  We had planned to explore the city during the two days we had until we jetted off to our honeymoon proper--a week in Puerta Vallarta, Mexico--but the Fairmont was so amazing, that we found ourselves content to hole up in the room for virtually the entire time.  Just looking out the windows we could see our city glittering in at our feet.

One of the last places we visited before we left for Saipan, was Chicago, once again.  We shopped at the Crate and Barrel on the Magnificent Mile, and took lots of pictures of the city, to tide us over in the decidely un-urban life ahead of us.

San Francisco is gorgeous, San Diego the sort of place we even considered living in,Orlando is lots of fun, Cincinnati, Portland, Columbus are all home in one sense or another.  But Chicago?  Chicago is ours.

And so two weeks ago, we hit the road once again for Chicago--just the two of us.  For the first time we left our son to stay overnight with his grandparents.  For the next twenty-four hours or so, we would be simply a couple again.  We enjoyed a nice drive up to the city, listening to the special U2 playlist I'd created on my ipod an anticipation of the concert that night.
Belly Shack: Perfect for lunch!

 We arrived in Chicago around 2:30 in the afternoon and our first stop was the Belly Shack, a wonderfully delicious little place specializing in a hybrid of Korean and Puerto Rican food.  I had the Korean BBQ beef with a side of the best kimchi I've had since Saipan (actually the first kimchi I"ve had since Saipan--but it was good!).  Babs had the borica--marinated tofu with hoisin BBQ sauce and brown rice served on slices of crispy plantains.  We also had the togarashi spiced fries with curry mayo--unbelievably good.  I found the place while doing a google search of the best restaurants in Chicago, and I must concur that this is not only one of the best eats in Chicago, but one of the best anywhere--and reasonably priced too!

The Chicago Fairmont, one of our favorite places in our favorite city to stay
After treating our bellies at the Belly Shack, our next stop was the Chicago Fairmont hotel.  After 14 years, it was long past time to revisit our honeymoon hotel.  Since 1997, they've completely remodeled the place and if anything it's even more spectacular and luxurious than before.  They gave us a huge suite with stunning views of the city from both the living room and bedroom.  We thought our honeymoon suite was pretty swell, but these digs e easily outclassed our very lovely first room.  Once again we found ourselves so enamored with the luxury of our room, that we ended up abandoning our plans to walk around the city and spent the remains of the afternoon reveling in our room overlooking our city.

The living room area of our suite, as you enter the front door.



The dining nook, adjoining the living room.  You can see the door to the bedroom to the left

The bedroom. Wow!  Our honeymoon suite was basically one room, like most hotel suites.  This room had a completely seperate bedroom and a bedroom-sized bathroom as well!
Of course Babs had to get a picture of the artwork on the wall above our bed!

The view from our bedroom window
The happy couple, still on honeymoon after 14 years!

At the last possible minute, we grabbed a cab and raced over to Soldier Field for the main reason for our visit--the U2 360 tour was in town again, and this time I intended to treat my wife to the incomparable experience of a U2 show.  I knew, having seen this tour twice already in 2009, that even with our seats high in the stands, Babs would be in for a treat.
At the show:  We had seats high up "behind" the circular stage.  The band made a decent effort to include us in the action, circling around to our side from time to time to sing or play, but still most of the time they were facing the front or sides.  From this high up, the screen was the best way to view the show anyway and we always had a spectacular view of that.

We arrived just as the lights were going down and the band's intro music, David Bowie's "A Spaced Oddity" was beginning to play.   The band played a great set.  I've read online that many who'd seen multiple shows on this tour thought this one of their best nights of the tour.  For myself, I found few surprises--since I'd studied the setlist in advance I knew pretty much what to expect.   U2 began with a blistering quartet of songs from their 1991 album Achtung Baby, and then continued with a sampling of cuts from every album they've released--from crowd-pleasing hits like "Pride (In the Name of Love)", "With or Without You", "Beautiful Day" and this one:
video
"I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (my traditional U2 concert video clip)

to fan-pleasing rarities like "Out of Control", "Zooropa" and "Scarlet".  I was particularl pleased to hear "Zooropa" as it is one of my all-time favorite U2 tunes and hadn't been played live for years until just recently.   But all of this was expected--at least for me--and what I was hoping for was a surprise, something I didn't see coming.   And I got it, right at the very end.  On what appeared to be a spur of the moment decision the band decided to play "One Tree Hill", a song written in honor of their close friend Greg Carroll, who died almost 25 years ago to the day  of that concert.  This song about saying goodbyes, with intimations of seeing loved ones again "when the stars fall from the sky and the moon turns red over One Tree Hill", and the image of the great ocean that I love so much, is another one of my favorites among favorites by U2 and I was so excited to hear it again.  I last heard it at the Japan show I attended in 2006 and the bootleg of that version is the one I prefer above even the original recording.  I felt even more lucky to hear it, when I found out that U2 rarely ever play this song.

All in all, it was a great show, with something for everyone--lots of familiar hits that I knew my wife, and the many other casual fans there would know, and lots of gems from their catalogue that die-hards like me could treasure.

Here's the complete setlist for the show we attended on Tuesday, July 5, 2011:

Even Better Than The Real Thing
The Fly
Mysterious Ways / Tryin' To Throw Your Arms Around The World (snippet)
Until The End Of The World
Out Of Control
Get On Your Boots
I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For / The Promised Land (snippet)
Stay (Faraway, So Close!)
Beautiful Day / Space Oddity (snippet)
Elevation
Pride (In The Name Of Love)
Miss Sarajevo
Zooropa
City Of Blinding Lights / My Kind Of Town (snippet)
Vertigo
Miss You (snippet) / I'll Go Crazy If I Don't Go Crazy Tonight / Discothèque (snippet) / Life During Wartime (snippet)
Sunday Bloody Sunday
Scarlet
Walk On / You'll Never Walk Alone (snippet)

encore(s):
One
Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow (snippet) / Where The Streets Have No Name
Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me / My Kind Of Town (snippet)
With Or Without You
Moment of Surrender / One Tree Hill (snippet)
One Tree Hill

Sound and Light at the U2360 show.  I actually thought the band made more creative use of the 360 degree screen at the 2009 Chicago shows, but it was still pretty spectacular.


Looks like she's having a great time!  To be honest, I felt a little shy taking Babs to her first U2 concert.  I wasn't sure if she would enjoy it as much as I did, if she'd find either the band or my enthusiasm too loud. I'd have been crushed if she'd felt negatively about an experience and a band that I enjoy so much.  Fortunately, my worries turned out to be for naught.

Just before "Moment of Surrender",  Bono asked us to take out our cellphones, as he often does at concerts, and had the stage lights turned down so that the entire stadium turned into a galaxy of stars created by 80,000 phones.  We opened our phone too, revealing the picture of our Little Feller, in that way remembering him and makin him part of our experience too.
U2's 360 stage nicknamed "The Claw" at the end of the show.  The pictures came out better with the houselights up.


Babs n' Me after the show.

Getting out of the stadium took awhile, and by the time we began walking back to the Fairmont I was bone tired.  Yet, strolling along hand-in-hand, the city lights twinkling all around us, is one of my favorite memories among many of the two of us in our city.

The next morning we slept late, rushed out to find some souvenirs to take home to our little boy, grabbed a delectable classic Chicago deep-dish pizza from Lou Malnati's (another place I definitely recommend--they have locations all over the city and out in the suburbs), and hit the road for home.

Our visit had been too short, as it seems our visits to Chicago always are, but long enough to create a few more special memories that will join the others of the times we've spent as friends and lovers in our city--Chicago.

Chicago cityscape.  Babs took this photo on Wednesday, July 6, on our way out of town.  With our good friends J, Evelyn, and Benjamin Carlos moving to the Windy City, we expect to be back soon and often.
Meet me in Chicago
Down by the water line
Step across the gold coast
To my heart and to your wine
Maybe Cincinnati
With a trip in the morning light
Step across the branches
I will follow you over the Rhine

And it takes one to know one
That's what they always say
I've waited for the dawn
And I've waited for the day
Oh, I'm coming low
And I'm willing to pray
Stepping through the haze
One more day on a wide open road
On and on and the lights come and go
And everything I might not even know
What is the distance
On through the resistance singing
Oh

Meet me in Portland
Roast here in the summer light
See you in the evergreens
I will catch you down on the Northeast side
And maybe San Diego
Moonlight at the lowest tide
See you in the shoreline breaker
Stepping over my maker's line

And it takes one to know one
That's what they always say
I've waited for the dawn
And I've waited for the day
Oh, I'm coming low
And I'm willing to pray
Stepping through the haze
One more day on a wide open road
On and on and the lights come and go
And everything I might not even know
What is the distance
On through the resistance singing


You met me on the backstreets
Right there at the end of the line
Where a spark turns into fire
And a tear falls into life

And it takes one to know one
That's what they always say
I've waited for the dawn
And I've waited for the day
Oh, I'm coming low
And I'm willing to pray
Stepping through the haze
One more day on a wide open road
On and on and the lights come and go
And everything I might not even know
What is the distance
On through the resistance
On a wide open road
On and on and the lights come and go
And everything I might not even know
What is the distance
On through the resistance singing
Oh

Meet me in Chicago
Down by the water line
You stepped across the gold coast
Stepped into this heart of mine

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Great post!

Feel like I was right there in chi town with you two :)

Concert looked awesome!!

Dawn

Mai said...

Great pictures! Looks like a fun place! I love the art in the hotel room and that your wore your mat kearney shirt to the U2 concert!