Monday, October 23, 2006

Best of the Midwest: Chicago

Howard is tanned, rested, and ready after spending five days in Chicago, birthplace of the skyscraper, the prairie-style home, and the baseball losing streak. Okay, not so tanned.

Howard rode the El, the loop, and the express elevator to the near-top of Sears Tower. He ran in the Chicago Marathon, he toured Frank Lloyd Wright's architecture in Oak Park and more in the neighborhood around the University of Chicago, he visited the penguins and porpoises at Shedd Aquarium and the gorillas at Brookfield Zoo, and he was awed by Frank Gehry's design for the Jay Pritzker Pavilion (the odd stainless steel bundle above) and Anish Kapoor's Cloud Gate (the giant reflective kidney bean below) at the new Millennium Park.

He was also depressed and psychicly scarred to find the public face of Wrigley Field to be wrapped in grimy 60'-high chainlink fence (no picture of Wrigley will smudge this blog.) Ugliest baseball field in the nation. Long live the losing streak, says this dark-hearted architect.

What was that? Howard ran in the Chicago Marathon? You betcha! He and family were on their way to a bus tour Sunday morning and bumped squarely into a marathon with no way across. How does one get through a 100,000-person marathon race? By running downstream, up-tempo, and diagonally -- avoiding other runners when possible. Only took about 100 feet of running for Howard and family as they took turns running in the Chicago Marathon.

Unfortunately, the winner of the marathon, Kenyan runner Robert Cheruiyot, slipped on a banner placed on the ground in front of the finish line and banged his head hard to the pavement. Fortunately for Mr. Cheriuyot, his legs crossed the finish line for the win though his upper body did not. Unfortunately for him, he suffered a concussion and may never have and retain a memory of the final moments of victory. He should be fine, the doctors say. After all, he won the Boston Marathon earlier this year, so can brag without asterisk all he wants about that win.

Howard was awed by Chicago. Though visiting it 22 years before, he didn't see it the way he did this time. The architecture of Chicago is the best in the world, save -- perhaps -- the architecture of Paris, Rome, and [insert your favorite city here].

While the rest of the family saw enough to last them the rest of their lifetimes, Howard hopes to go back again and again. Fortunately, Mrs. Howard, who wasn't able to come to Chicago with the rest of us, shares this affinity after a visit a few years ago for a writer's convention.


Blogger Saurabh Barve said...

Anish Kapoor ( Why, that guy's a desi ( [pronounced de-si not de-zi]. And a Mumbaikar ( to boot. Cool!

8:57 AM, October 26, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home