Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chicago, part one:

Shootin' Buddy had a seminar to attend in Chicago, and asked if I'd like to come along and make a mini-vacation out of it. We'd stay with his friends in the city, he'd do his thing on Thursday, and then Friday we could take in a museum or something, maybe go out to eat, do some sightseeing, that sort of thing, and return to Indiana on Saturday.

I thought it sounded like a swell idea, and showed up at his crib on Wednesday evening. My turse thoroughly denuded of anything remotely weaponlike and carefully inspected for any stray magazines or speedloaders, my purse howitzer tucked away in Shootin' Buddy's safe, and my pockets emptied of everything but my Spyderco Dodo, with its Chicago-legal 2" blade, we hopped in the car and drove north.

The run into Chicago through Lake County, Indiana always reminds me of Frodo & Sam approaching the borders of Mordor: The vegetation gets blighted and unhealthy looking; there are murky pools and low-lying swamps that look like they could contain anything from tentacled horrors to Blinky the three-eyed fish; whole neighborhoods of rusting industry and boarded-up homes can be seen from the highway; and atop a giant black pinnacle on the horizon is the malevolent, unblinking red eye of Mayor Daley... Or maybe it's just the aircraft warning light atop the Sears Tower; it's hard to tell from a distance.

We arrived in Hyde Park a little early, having decided this time to get directions from our hostess rather than MapQuest, so we proceeded to kill a few minutes by picking up some necessities at the neighborhood Walgreen's. Standing in the checkout line my eyes wandered from the photo of a smiling Barry O., autographed for his local drug store manager, to the cigarettes that were proudly listed as On Sale! for something around eight bucks a pack. Did you know that when you suddenly blurt "Sweet zombie Jesus!" aloud in a checkout line, even Chicagoans will turn and look?

Next door was a Treasure Island, whose marquee proclaimed it to be "America's Most European Supermarket", as though that were a selling point; perhaps they were trying to make a virtue out of rude staff and VAT-like prices? Anyhow, after we went in, I couldn't even figure out what was supposed to be so European about it. It seemed like a pretty normal supermarket, about like a Kroger in a nice neighborhood, certainly not as pretentious as a Fresh Market or Whole Foods.

So there we were: Out of ammo, surrounded by hippies, and boots on the ground in the O-zone...

30 comments:

TheSev said...

The Horror!

I'll stay home thanks. Heh.

og said...

Now imagine driving through that every single weekday of your life. And welcome to my world. Unfortunately, I don't get to enjoy the pretty touristy spots, just the bleak barren factory zones. Mordor indeed.

Desertrat said...

"First prize is an all-expense-paid weekend in Chicago."

But if you lose the contest, you have to move there.

Art

Montie said...

Tam,

My chief is from southside Chicago, and thanks his lucky stars every day for an older friend who was deeply involved in one of the major Chicago gangs. It seems the friend had realized the error of his own life choices and had determined not to let his young friend follow in his footsteps.

His friend forced him to stay on the straight and narrow (hard to do on the southside) and he later got out of the hood by enlisting in the Army. He is glad he went into law enforcement as it lets him legally carry a gun when visiting his old hood. Something he says is vital for survival insurance in his old haunts.

Oh, and from the things he tells me, I'm sure it is indeed the "malevolent unblinking red eye of Mayor Daley", it only conveniently serves a secondary function as an aircraft warning light.

Montie said...

The only people who think Chicago is a swell place are refugees from Detroit!

Anonymous said...

Glad you survived....now, burn those boots (or send them to Yucca Mountain)....

Stephen said...

"So there we were: Out of ammo, surrounded by hippies, and boots on the ground in the O-zone... "

Sounds like my Easter trip to Ventura, CA.

BobG said...

Sounds like a midwestern version of Innsmouth...

dr mac said...

"Sweet zombie Jesus!".

Your the best.

D.W. Drang said...

@ Monty: The only people who think Chicago is a swell place are refugees from Detroit!
No, no we don't.
At least in Detroit I am allowed to be armed; Michigan recognizes every other states' concealed carry permits, has for decades.
Nevertheless, the closest I ever intend to get is wherever the nearest relatives are. Brother in law just accepted a three-year assignment in Red China, so that would make it Tennessee...

Anonymous said...

Closest I ever got to Chicago was a plane change at O'Hare Airport.

No love lost for the Daley empire after reading Lewis Grizzard's description of his internment there.

Gmac

Kristopher said...

Lay down suppressive fire and retreat.

Nuke the site from orbit.

Joe in PNG said...

One does not simply drive into Mordor. You got to stop at all the tollbooths and pay first.

Dixie said...

Nuke the site from orbit.

It's the only way to be sure.

One does not simply drive into Mordor. You got to stop at all the tollbooths and pay first.

(shudder) Man, hush, you're reminding me of the last time I was in NYC...

Crustyrusty said...

My wife and I are both originally from Chicago, and left (thank God) as soon as we were able; she ended up in KY and I went in the military, and then to KY. Except for brief visits in Berwyn and a trip to the hospital in Hazel Crest, we haven't been back. I won't put myself in that position again.

Tam said...

"(shudder) Man, hush, you're reminding me of the last time I was in NYC..."

Whoah, whoah, whoooaaah!

Let's not talk crazy talk, now. I'll visit Chicago, but there's places I won't go even at gunpoint. ;)

Chris said...

2 inches?? Really? Even Rhode Island lets you get to 3.

mariner said...

The politicians in Rhode Island must be, well, bigger.

atlharp said...

Geez, f**k that place! I would rather crap razor blades than go there. Geez, does someone have to pee in a cup there to have a good time? If you go there next time I will donate $20 if you light up a cigarette in a government building. ;-)

Ed Foster said...

I still carry my old Spydeco CLIPIT whenever I'm on the boat. If I end up fouled on a live line, it's always there and does a savage job. I added one of those self spooling I.D. badge reels as a lanyard.

Happiness is a handy knife.

loren said...

So....how did you drive through Lake county into Chicago from Indiana? Lake county is the millionaires row are north of Chicago.

Tam said...

Lake County, Indiana.

Anonymous said...

There is a Lake County Indiana, they get all our thunderstorms after they finish with the Chicago-land area.

Yes I have to admit I live in the far suburbs and I'm waiting for the day we gain our God-given constitutional rights back.

Joseph said...

"....in the land of Mordor where the shadows lie."

I grew up outside of Chicago. There are things I miss, but the daylong rush hours, too many people and winters I don't miss.

Anonymous said...
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tickmeister said...

I went there in January with some of my hippie musician friends, actually had a pretty good time. They had a gig at the Old town school of folk music or some such place. Our host lives in a remodeled store front in a slightly ghetto area and he has hardened it pretty well.

Lots of cool stuff there, and not so bad if you avoid the total hell hole areas. I figure it's sort of like going to Africa to hunt buffalo. You might get killed, you just have to decide if the experience is worth the risk.

Dixie said...

Let's not talk crazy talk, now. I'll visit Chicago, but there's places I won't go even at gunpoint. ;)

Heh. Chicago's easy to get out of, too.

Last time I was in NYC, I was with a bunch of friends in a tour group. Imagine 60 blissfully ignorant small-town Southerners-- plus me-- walking through HELL'S KITCHEN to their bus.

Trust me, never again. The plans for my next trip to NYC start with the words "once the B-52s have completed their bombing runs..." (chuckle)

Tam said...

"Heh. Chicago's easy to get out of, too. "

That's the biggest difference between Chicago and NYC or San Fran for me. If worst comes to worst, I could always Snake Plissken my way back to Hoosier land.

Anonymous said...

"[...] and boots on the ground in the O-zone..."

I just had this mental image of you and Shootin' Buddy spontaneously breaking into song and dance:

Vrei sa pleci dar nu ma, nu ma iei,
Nu ma, nu ma iei, nu ma, nu ma, nu ma iei.
Chipul tau si dragostea din tei,
Mi-amintesc de ochii tai.

Dixie said...

If worst comes to worst, I could always Snake Plissken my way back to Hoosier land.

My plan was to cross the river and get to Jersey. From there, it's only about 150 miles to friendly lines.

Of course, swimming in the Hudson would probably kill you.