When I first recounted our adventures to a coworker, he asked if it was like “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.” Considering the movie is three years older than I am, I wasn’t able to to say, but I’m glad to report I watched the movie last weekend so that I could make a fair comparison.
I did this under the guise of “research” for my blog 🙂
Okay, so we didn’t jump on a parade float and sing “Twist and Shout.” (Spoiler alert?) BUT we did do a lot of amazing things in Chicago. I was proud of us for sleeping early the day before because we had a lot ahead of us.
First Stop- Museum of Contemporary Photography (Columbia College Chicago)
Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity Apr 6 — Jul 12, 2015 source: http://www.mocp.org
I credit Laura for finding and planning out most of our free Chicago events. She’s from St. Paul, Minnesota, and she found places I had never even heard of, this being one of them! Located on South Michigan Ave, the Museum of Contemporary Chicago was a free and great find! The current exhibit, that runs until July 12, 2015 is called “Dandy Lion: (Re)Articulating Black Masculine Identity.” The exhibit presents black and whites as well as stunning color photographs of black men and women dressed in European attire re-appropriated in an African context. Among my favorites were the men dressed in bright contrasting colors of purples, yellows and reds imbued with African patterns. There was something beautiful and proud in each rendition of menswear personality.
We crossed the street afterwards and roamed Millenium Park, taking pictures by the Millenium Fountain. looking out on the concert stage and staring at our reflections beneath the Bean along the way, before crossing the street again to visit the Chicago Cultural Center.
Next Stop- Chicago Cultural Center
Chicago Cultural center exhibit “Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist” source: http://www.cityofchicago.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_info/motley.html
At this point I sensed a theme–both exhibits at the Chicago Cultural Center both centered around black art, which was refreshing to see. Most paintings were vivid and lively, depicting family, playground, and jazz clubs, with themes of religion and the naked female body. There were a few serious portraits as well, and one that even set me back. It looked like a photograph, amid a bunch of paintings. Why? That turned out to be a trick of my myopic eyes, but it was very impressive that I was even confused for a moment as to whether the painting was “real” or not. The color contrast between the paintings and the walls was very impressive, further highlighting the life and color of the painting and making the experience one of magic and surrealism. It reminded me much of the set up at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, and I noticed that Chicago has been following that example in recent years.
Love for Sale: The Graphic Art of Valmor Products
The next exhibit we went to was “Love for Sale: The Graphic Art of Valmor Products.” The life size adverts struck me in a number of ways. At first, because it so blatantly targeted a woman’s desire for love. The message “wear this perfume to keep your honey” seemed to be everywhere, and literally said things like that on their products. It was not even concealed like you see in some of our ads and commercials today. At the same time there was a great vintage feel to the posters and products that made me feel strangely nostalgic for that time, combined with the music at the exhibit, even though I wanted to reject that message. It took me another full minute or so to realize the exhibit seemed exclusively dedicated to black beauty. It seemed the black hair beauty ideal was to curl it with hair oils, and the images made me appreciate the natural hair movement I see in women like Lianne le Havas who rock their full head of kinks and curls. My friend got inspired by this one day and rocked a full waterfall fro, getting compliments from the people around her. I feel we are in an interesting time where the dichotomy of female black hair is split between straightening and teasing their locks and letting it go full force. While I think it is each women’s personal choice, I like to think we can get to a place where both can be celebrated and women won’t be pressured to choose one over the other.
At this point Laura and I took a lunch break, before checking out the Palmer Hotel and its decadent ceilings reminiscent of the European Renaissance style. We then went to the River Walk and blocked out some time to relax and soak in the sun. We both appreciated that we didn’t have a tight agenda controlled by the hour. We had a lot to do and a lot we wanted to see, but we were not obligated to the schedule. We could pick and choose locations as we pleased, and gave ourselves time to relax and enjoy the details. We watched the boat cruises pass, gazed at the “corn cob towers,” the river, and laid on our backs. When we were ready, we crossed the street and walked to my old workplace- the Chicago Tribune! Until I worked there I never knew this, but there are actually stones and pieces of different building from all over the world lined along the Tribune Tower. The Forbidden Temple at Peking and Hans Christian Anderson’s home are a few of my favorites, along with the pyramid of Giza.
We also saw a line of three form to pet a fuzzy and content little puppy in his daddy’s arms. He was the quietest and most content little ball of fur we had ever seen, so of course we had to form in line as well. His dad (in his twenties) was very gracious, telling us yes please pet him, and said he was trying to keep the Rottweiler puppy as a chill little guy. Heartened now by our encounter with the puppy, we decided that our dying feet could handle another four blocks to the Navy Pier. The walk was so long I almost thought I had led us astray, but it turns out I missed the shortcut leading us underground to the other side. We cried in relief with the Navy Pier in sight, and ran towards it.
Third Stop- Navy Pier
At this point, our feet were dying and our urge to go to the bathroom was strong. We felt we had walked across half of downtown Chicago, but really we were a couple of bosses for trekking it up to Navy Pier and it finally felt worth it. What might be described as an entertainment and shopping center, the Navy Pier had a botanical garden and a couple IMAX theatres, and a long line of boat cruise options. We were interested in the Ferris Wheel out back. Our inner children were screaming to get on it, and I had never actually been on it in all my years of living in Chicago! I had always wanted to see it with another friend but we never got around to it. This was my chance, here with Laura. I was preparing to be overcharged for it, but the ride was actually only seven dollars! Well worth the excitement, and there was even a photographer with a professional camera behind us. We were screaming in delight as we boarded, and the slow ascent gave us plenty of time to build up the hype and take in the city as it shifted further and further below us. We had plenty of time to take pictures and talk about how we would always remember that moment, the peak of our journey. Laura said it we weren’t at the top yet until we could see nothing above us, not even the car in front. She was right. And at that moment we felt like we were at the top of the city, Chicago was our playground. The descent gave us time to settle back down to earth.
Before we left, Laura wanted to buy a flower crown. They were two for ten, which I took as a sign to buy one of my own. Once again we were fashion twins (a trend that started when we first went to the Pride parade and bought different patterned sarongs, with a two for thirty deal). We wore our crowns to the beach, took our shoes off and rested again in the sun, admiring a doggy running and playing on the shore in the company of a group of teenage boys playing volleyball without a net. After a couple hours of resting and chatting the group began to pack up, the dog rejected our call, and the shade cast us in the sudden cold. We decided that was our queue to head early to the concert venue. This time however, our feet refused to trek back downtown, and we loved the bus like we had never before in our lives. Laura even joked to the bus: “I would kiss you if you weren’t so dirty.” I was praising the invention of the bus and its convenience in similar odes. We ranted once more about the puppy and our transportation route, until we hit the red line and made our way down to Addison.
Final Stop- Metro Chicago
We had some time to eat leftovers and rest our feet once more in a cute cafe called Uncommon Ground. It had a very chill lights and lounge ambience, a classy place brought back to earth feel with its all wood ensemble. Even the bathroom brought it up a notch, with a mosaic of a glazed enamel tree climbing up the wall and a beautiful saying in chalk on the door about the beauty in our hearts and the stars. When we had finished the Metro was a mere three minutes walk back.
Betty Who was the opener and the person I had come to see as far as I was concerned. Laura and I were both disconcerted when Lord Huron had sold out, as that was what had brought us together in the first place, but we both agreed it was better to spend the money we would have on multiple events instead. As soon as Betty Who came on stage with her beautiful presence and light, we knew that we had made the right choice. This was the right place to be. Throughout Betty had such an amazing reach with her fans, reaching their hands, signing autographs, wiggling her hips and joking she would “report us to HR” for whistling at her, and even taking a guy’s phone camera and recording herself singing with the band and the crowd behind her before giving it back. She dedicated the concert and a song to a friend she lost in Nepal due to the earthquakes. I was truly touched when she said she had wanted him to be there, and that all she wanted to do was spread the light and the love for him, just increasing the love in the room. A person with a more beautiful soul I have rarely seen, and I became more a fan of her than ever.
After that, Laura and I felt she was a hard act to follow. I doubted Keisza was up to the task. I was wrong. While Betty Who has catchy beats and an amazing personality, her dance presentation is good but simple. Keisza on the other hand is a multi-talented powerhouse who can command the stage. She hits the high note throughout, never missing a beat and practically break dancing with her two back up singers almost the entire time. She was very good on timing when pulling out all the stops, opening with some impressive songs before dialing it down to a few solo beats and playing the piano. Then she jammed it up with a microphone that lit up green and we all screamed. Laura and I had to put on our sunglasses. Keisza wanted me to pull a career change and just make my life all about dancing, singing and performing on stage. Towards the grand finale they pulled out colored circle hoops, more dancing, the Take U There remix (which Diplo and Skrillex had done) and Keisza even finished it off with a Worm onstage! Laura and I were screaming an thrilled at all the girl power action we had witnessed! We were tired and pumped out of our minds, making an amazing end to an amazing day.