Chicago, the rest of the story



Although I’m now back in China, I’m still processing my 2 1/2 week sentimental journey to the midwestern USA.  It will take a while to get my thoughts together – probably sometime after I manage to get my days and nights switched back around.  At the moment, my air conditioner is broken, but after a heavy rain last night the air is not sweltering – yet.

Here are some more photos from my fast 5-day sojourn in Chicago, with minimal commentary.



The “Mayor Daley” dog – The Chicago Dog House on Fullerton.  Sorry foks, no Polish sausage with sauerkraut and hot mustard – at least not on this trip.




My old ‘hood – N. Broadway at Briar Pl., just south of Belmont.  The area has been yuppified and stuffed full of chain restaurants – it’s lost its edginess and slightly seedy quality. 




Taking the Red Line el train to Howard on the north side.





My alma mater:  Northwestern University in Evanston.  I walked through the campus, but it’s now an alien universe.  I passed my 4 years here (in the 1970s) in a fog, and today my memories of the place are mostly of loneliness and isolation.





Terracotta ornament on a beautifully-restored Uptown building on Broadway.




Chicago River panorama – from the el train headed south for the Loop.




Perfectly balanced – seen from the el





The “Bean” – actually the Cloud Gate sculpture by Anish Kapoor in Millenium Park, downtown.  Night reflections.





Nighttime fountain, Millenium Park





The Art Institute of Chicago.  I revisited many familiar paintings – above, Seurat’s Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte, 1884





 My friend Lorraine and I met for the first time in many years, and had dinner together at The Berghoff.  Above, a reuben sandwich on rye bread.





The deep dish pizza at Gino’s East satisfied my pizza cravings, but didn’t live up to my memories.  I have to report that it was rather mediocre.





After my stay at the Chicago Getaway Hostel, I transfered to the downtown Travelodge, where I had a private room.  From my window I could see one of my favorite landmarks, Adler & Sullivan’s 1889 Auditorium Building.  I actually was able to peek inside the Auditorium Theater, as it was open on Sunday morning for a church service.





After spending an evening with Lorraine, on my final day I visited the Art Institute, walked along North Michigan Avenue, and said goodbye to Chicago.  Above, Michigan Avenue at night, from Millenium Park.

eating Chicago

In Chicago, it’s all about the food.  Thankfully, I’m doing a lot of walking.  Now that the weather’s heating up, however, I’ll be spending more time indoors, which means….more food, dude.  Here’s a sampling of what I’ve consumed:




At Ann Sather (Just Good Food): The home-baked breads are a treat.  The cinnamon roll was just about the most delicious thing I’ve ever eaten




Ann Sather’s fried catfish sandwich was a dream.  There was also a salad with blue cheese dressing, and cole slaw.  I was in Ann Sather heaven.





Mexican combo plate – Thursday lunch




 Half a roasted chicken with pita and cole slaw at Chicken Hut, Belmont & Broadway – Thursday dinner.  Thanks to for the recommendation!




My first slice of real cheesecake in over 5 years – Bourgeois Pig cafe, breakfast on Friday




The Majestic Burrito at Chicago Diner, with sour cream and guacamole – Friday lunch




Turkey Panini and chocolate-cheesecake brownie at Austrian Bakery – Friday dinner




In case you’re thinking that all I do is eat:  the Green Mill lounge in Uptown, dating from the 1920s.



Still to come:  I have exactly two days left in which to consume the following:  a grilled reuben sandwich on rye, a deep dish pizza, Indian food, Thai food, and one final Greek gyros sandwich.  Wish me luck.

sentimental journey


Chicago el


The weather in Chicago has been on the cool side, with enough of a breeze to make walking a pleasure, and to put me in the mood to contemplate the passage of more than 30 years.  One of the purposes of this trip is to find out if reality matches my memories of a time and place long ago.  It’s been a difficult process to remember the naive and confused young man I was in my early 20s, and to find traces of him in the middle-aged, and more cynical, person I’ve become.  Another question I’m trying to answer is just how living in China has changed me.  As you might expect, it’s a journey fraught with emotional baggage.

On another note, it’s been an exercise in photography and food.  Some highlights of my sentimental trip so far:



I’m staying at the Chicago Getaway Hostel on Arlington, on the near north side near Lincoln Park.  It’s quite comfy, although I’m in a dorm room with 12 people.




I’m within walking distance of my old stomping grounds, near Belmont and Broadway.  It’s officially called Lakeview East, although it’s also known as Boystown, since the area is the city’s gay enclave.




My old apartment building, 540 West Briar Place, where I lived after graduating from college in 1978. My first apartment was on the 8th floor.  If I remember correctly, if you stood on the edge of the bathtub, looked out the small bathroom window, and then twisted your neck, you could just see Lake Michigan.




Another sentimental journey:  Ann Sather, “Just good food.”  The Swedish restaurant was a staple of the old neighborhood, next to the Belmont el station, although today it’s been completely remodeled.




Ann Sather, dining room





The Chicago skyline from Diversey Harbor.



Next installment:  more food fun, and lots of walking.

sentimental journey

Autumn sun, Lincoln Park, Chicago, 1978

The above photo was one of the first that I took with my new Pentax KX SLR in 1978.  I bought the camera when I graduated from Northwestern University, and I still have it over 30 years later; I used it until I bought my first digital SLR a couple of years ago.

In 2 days I’ll fly to the USA for the first time in 5 years, in honor of my father’s 85th birthday.  I’ll visit my brother Kenton, and end my trip with 6 days in Chicago.  I’ll be returning to places I knew many years ago.  It will be a sentimental journey, but also a bit of a time warp and a culture shock. According to the internet, the Chicago temperature is in the 80s, but in my home state of Missouri it’s supposed to climb to 97 (36 Celsius) in the next few days.  Whew.  I’ll spend a lot of time indoors.

I’ll update my blog with photos, and impressions of my home country in the midst of an economic depression, joblessness, and attacks on workers, unions, and public employees.  I wonder what kind of place it will seem to me.  I’ll let you know.