"And You Say, Chi City"
This post is about our weekend in Chicago but if you’re in a hurry, the jist is Jason Sudeikis put his hand on my shoulder and sincerely apologized for the delay. Pretty cool, huh?! If I had an IMDb page, which I don’t, I think this encounter would fit nicely between “stole a sandwich from craft services on the set of a local car dealership commercial” and “insisted Elvis impersonator take several dozen pictures with her.”
A few minutes before that, David Koechner (Anchorman, Wacky Pack) approached John with a flushed face, hilariously-mussed hair, and askew bow-tie that looked as if it had only recently, mercifully been un-done. John had one hand on his cane. Koechner leaned in, rested his hand on top of John’s, and pointedly looked him in the eye as if to say, “I AM OLD AND I FEEL YOUR PAIN.”
Here’s how it all happened. I wanted to do something really special for John’s birthday. I heard a block of Hamilton tickets was going on sale in Chicago so I set an alarm and managed to score two. Given the insanity of the last year, we decided to make a weekend of it. We’ve always wanted to go to a Second City show, so John got tickets for us. It just so happened that there was a roast of George Wendt (NORM! from Cheers, among other roles) hosted by Mr. Sudeikis and featuring a lot of cool folks, including Koechner, at Second City that night. Our show was supposed to start at 11 p.m. but the roast went over. We weren’t furious or anything but the delay was puzzling, especially since we hadn’t pieced together what was happening yet and the Second City staff were pretty close-lipped. Finally around midnight, Koechner roared through the door where we were waiting in line, apologizing and stopping to take pictures with several people. A few moments later, Sudeikis came through and obliged fans as well.
We eventually made it to the mainstage and were seated right up front. The show was A BALL. The performers were hilarious and the writing was so clever. It was well worth the wait. Every night since then, I sit in a dark corner and whisper “my precious” into my commemorative Second City glass.
I’ve always heard such great things about the architecture tour on the Chicago River so John got us tickets for that on Saturday afternoon. The weather was perfect – sunny and breezy - and the tour guide, Blake, was impressively knowledgeable. I’m a complete architecture neophyte so I learned a lot of terms and concepts I’d never even heard before. A few other tidbits that I thought were cool:
- Apparently Chicago was, in part, called “The Windy City” because of its supposedly-verbose residents and windbag politicians. #SoundsLegit
- After 100 years of frozen preservation, it took four days for the old meat packing building to thaw before it could begin to be used for something other than cold storage.
- The movable bridges on the Chicago River use counterweights, which balance the long arms of the bridges that cross the river. They are so precisely calibrated that if one of the bridges is re-painted, its counterweight has to be adjusted to account for the weight of that layer of paint. (As a web designer who frequently breaks web sites with a single keystroke, I’m in awe of feats of engineering like that.)
John slept in Sunday morning so I took a walk before the city woke up. It was cool out and the streets were still quiet but brimming with possibility. By the time we left the hotel later after brunch, the streets were bustling. It felt like stepping into a completely different movie set. I was glad I’d had the quiet time earlier.
We saw Hamilton Sunday afternoon and I can’t begin to convey how phenomenal it was. I’d heard so much about it and downloaded the soundtrack last year but to see it performed was earth shattering. I was moved to tears several times and felt so grateful to be sharing that experience with John.
It was truly inspiring to watch such a diverse cast re-frame history in a nuanced and thought-provoking way. And it was a treat to see women's experiences explored. It takes an incredible gift to seamlessly pull together nods to Gilbert & Sullivan, Grandmaster Flash, and Biggie. I was swooning the entire time.
There is something so invigorating about being in Chicago. I always think of Billy Corgan crooning, “And the embers never fade, in your city by the lake.”