Wednesday, August 25, 2004
I should really stop prefacing each entry with an apology for having not blogged for so long. The solution, I suppose, would be to blog more often. You may put your minds at ease, for I shall be returning to school shortly, and then I should be blogging more regularly. Note: Link to an enormous photo album (Chicago trip, polo game, picnic, Lowell Spinners game) is somewhere near the bottom of this blog, so you'll just have to read through it all :) .
Quite a bit has been going on since I last wrote. As was previously mentioned, my family went on vacation to Chicago. Now, I knew that Chicago was supposed to be a pretty good city, as cities go. But no one had told me how UTTERLY FRIKKING AMAZING it was. I especially blame Dave, who goes to Northwestern and therefore should have known enough to inform me of this fact.
The architecture in Chicago caused me to go into a frenzied state of excitement. The Wrigley building! The Tribune Tower! The Corn Cobs! The Merchandise Mart! Oh! Oh! Oh! I die of the architecture. Just walking around the city you got to see these things. Of course, we also did an architecture tour on a boat that went down the Chicago River (which runs through the city). My brother may have bitterly resented the fact that we chose this particular activity, but I enjoyed it to an almost obscene level.
The hotel we were staying at was the W. It was cool. Seriously cool. Cool in the sense that the lobby was about as modern as it is possible to be, with giant video screens showing underwater shark videos flanking the steel elevators, an artfully lit bar with a swanky lounge behind it, shimmering screens of sequins hanging from the ceiling, giant arcing floor lamps, crazily organic chairs made out of one continuous piece of wood, and so on. It looked very much like the entire place had been decorated using furniture from Design Within Reach, or another comparable establishment.
The part that made me actually lose my mind in the face of it's sheer awesomeness, however, was the hallway that our room was on. Everyone is familiar with the standard hotel corridor... bland walls, unobtrusively bright lighting, etc. Ah, but no such mundanity for the W! The hallways here are decked out in dark colors, with little trays of rocks acting as a kind of decorative wainscoting. The doors are black, and the room numbers are printed in bright red on the carpet in front of each room(!). Most of the lighting in the hall comes from alternating white and pink lights aimed at the floor. The effect is ridiculous enough to be completely incredible. Too awesome.
We were only in Chicago for a few days, but we got quite a lot done. We visited the brand new Millenium Park, which has to be one of the best public spaces I've ever seen. The Gehry-designed concert hall is truly spectacular, and I can only imagine how great it would be to actually see someone play there. We went to the Field Museum of Natural History (home to one of the best jade collections in the world, the Hall of Jade, or the Hall of I'm Going to Kill Myself, according to my brother, who isn't exactly transported to lofty heights by the idea of such things) and the Art Institute of Chicago. The Art Institute had a pretty big surrealism section, with some very nice Magrittes. Heck, they had Time Transfixed! So I was rendered happy.
We also went to the Chicago Zoo, which had a lot of Big Cats to keep me happy (lions--sleeping, leopards-- sitting up on rocks, snow leopards-- pacing, cougar-- pacing). There was a large enclosure of chimpanzees with plexiglass on the side where you could view them. One of the chimps had smeared a large amount of its own feces onto this plexiglass, which was just wonderful. There were crazy nectar-eating bats that were clambering around using their little bat claws, a lot of very playful wild dogs, trumpeter swans that made an amazing trumpeting sound when they honked in unison, and some deceptively cute otters gamboling (why is it that the words 'otter' and 'gamboling' so often are linked together?).
There was also a pygmy hippo who walked underwater with a hilarious slow-motion gait that sent my brother and dad into near hysterics. It was quite excellent to watch. It also had a very determined look on its face, which added to its hippo-ish appeal. Later in the day, my brother was musing about the obvious need to steal the pygmy hippo so that we could take it home. My dad, attempting to insert reason into the conversation, said,
Dad: "Well, the problem with the hippo is that--"
Eli: "There is no problem with the hippo. The hippo is flawless."
Yes. We all liked the zoo.
We also saw a White Sox game at US Cellular Field. It would've been nicer to see the Cubs, but the tickets are harder to get, and the Tigers were playing the White Sox anyways. I have to admit to being entirely unimpressed with US Cellular Field. The stadium itself was completely unremarkable-- not old and nice, like Fenway, or new and nice, like Comerica. Perhaps the only thing about the field that could catch someone's interest were the multicolored pinwheels that were all over the place. I have absolutely no idea what the pinwheel has to do with anything, but it seemed to be some sort of White Sox symbol. If someone from Chicago can explain this to me, please, feel free to do so.
Also worrying was the Margarita guy. Most ballparks have beer vendors, but I hadn't seen a Margarita vendor before. He was walking up and down the aisles with what looked like a Ghost Busters-style cannister backpack, with a hose attached to it. He was shooting Margaritas out of this hose and into plastic cups. It might have been the absolute height of classlessness, but it was awfully funny.
Perhaps most astonishingly, we flew into and out of OHare airport, and both ways the flight was on time. Of course, because nothing can ever be easy with my family, we badly miscalculated the amount of time it would take us to drive from our house to Providence airport (we couldn't get flights out of Logan) and arrived at the airport exactly 15 minutes before our flight was supposed to leave. After getting through the huge line to check in, we had exactly 5 minutes. Oh, wait. Still have to get through security. We go through security. I get stopped and hand searched. My brother gets stopped and hand searched. My dad gets stopped and hand searched. We now have exactly no time until the flight leaves. We ran to the gate (which was, thankfully, right near security). The door was already closed and locked. Turns out the flight attendants were holding it as long as they possibly could, on the off chance that we would show up. Thank cats. They unlocked it, and on the plane we got, after having had the most stressful airport experience I can ever recall. From now on I'm planning to be at the airport a good solid two hours before my flight.
Quite a bit has been going on since we got back from Chicago. People started leaving for school already. Brian's gone off to Lehigh. Jason and the rest of the Syracuse crew have headed out. Maddie's back at McGill early because, in her infinite insanity, she's helping out at orientation. Corey and the Raw Arts folk finished the music video they were making for the band the Pernice Brothers. I got to see it, it came out great. Very funny and well-shot.
What else has been happening?
Clockwise from top left: sculpture in Millenium Park in Chicago, polo players at the Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton, Kate and Jess with a picnic basket on Marblehead Neck, batter for the Lowell Spinners.
The polo game was something that Kate and I had been wanting to do all summer. The Myopia Hunt Club in Hamilton (or possibly Wenham, they're much the same in my mind) has polo games every Sunday afternoon, weather permitting, but we hadn't been able to go due to Kate's job. Finally, this past Sunday, we made our way up. It was bizarre, like stepping into some other world, but it was a terribly good time.
There were a lot of very visibly rich people there (well, it was a polo game), with their expensive convertibles and obsessively pressed slacks. Amusingly, a number of them set up little wood folding tables next to their cars and lawn chairs and broke out wine glasses. Into which they poured wine. I don't know, it was funny. I'm used to baseball or football games, where people drink beer, but a sporting event where everyone is sipping delicately from wine glasses... it was a different sort of scene.
At half-time they invited everyone out onto the field for the ceremonial Divot Stomp. This is when the crowd goes out and stamps down the clods of dirt and grass that the polo ponies kick up during the course of the game-- the field is a lot safer for the ponies with the divots stamped down. It was pretty fun. Many people had their dogs running around on the field without leashes on, and one daschund (apparently named Nutmeg), for some occult doggy reason of its own, went insane. It started racing madly about, yipping and biting at other dogs. People were dodging out of its way. At one point it tore up to some little white poodley type of dog and starting menacing it. The poodley dog's owner charged the daschund, and when it still acted like it was aiming to eat poodley dog for dinner, the owner went into a protective frenzy and kicked it. The daschund went flying, landed, scrabbled to its feet, and went off to harass a bigger dog. Ah, how I laughed.
There was a family sitting in front of us who seemed to be more or less normal (i.e. not filthy rich members of the Myopia Hunt Club). The father kept trying to clean up the youngest child, who had had a red popsicle and was therefore coated in an indelible red dye. The older one kept running up to the edge of the field whenever a ball came over so that he could 'get a souvenir'. They were amused by my purse, which has a big photo collage thing of my teams on it (Patriots, Red Sox, Dolphins, Red Wings, Lions. Of coures). The names of the kids, bizarrely, were Lucas and Raphael.
Despite the fact that I knew not a single thing about polo, beyond the fact that it was played on horses, I managed to have a good time. The weather was perfect, Kate explained most of it, and it was just a peculiar but good time.
Last night Jess, Kate and I decided that it was so nice out that we needed to have a picnic dinner. So we went down to the little park by the lighthouse on Marblehead Neck with a basket full of foodish goodness, and we had ourselves a picnic. Excepting the mosquitos, it was fun. A swallow was swooping around about a foot off the ground for a while, acrobatically picking off bugs, and at one point it almost swiped Kate with its wingtips. I laughed. She shrieked. Delighful. We went down a little before sunset, and we left shortly after it got really dark, because locals like to drive down to the lighthouse at night for romantic purposes, and we didn't particularly wish to witness any of that sort of thing.
Tonight my family went to a Lowell Spinners game. The Spinners are a single-A farm team for the Red Sox, and the games are always amazing. The crowd was more excited about being at a baseball game than they had been at US Cellular. Fun stuff goes on in between innings, like people in big stuffed suits jousting or sumo wrestling, contests, and the frisbee-catching dogs.
Tonight it was the Spinners vs. the New Jersey Cardinals (a farm team for, surprise surprise, the Cardinals). The level of play was pretty good, and it was fun to watch, especially as our seats were in the first row, right on top of the Cardinals dugout. The game was tied at 1 when we left after the 10th inning, but according to the Spinners website, Lowell won 2-1 in the 11th. Huzzah.
Since the walls of the park aren't all that high, a lot of the foul balls that were hit tonight went right out of the park and into the street outside it. As we were leaving for the car, a foul ball landed a ways ahead of us in the road. My dad began charging up to it, racing with some other adults and some kids. It was pretty mortifying. But then he got the ball and gave it to me, so I'm not about to complain :) .
OK, it's now 2:25 am and while I may still be awake, I think my brain is starting to shut down as far as writing is concerned. Here are the photos from Chicago, the polo game, the picnic, and the Spinners game. You'll want to take a look at them, there are quite a lot in there, and they've been painstakingly captioned, each and every one. Yes. You know you want to see them all.
Until the next, mes amis.