Category USA

Janacek doth suffer a sea-change

  Janacek was a homely cat—with his mottled brown, gray, white and striped fur—not to mention clumsy, and rather lazy.  They say pets resemble their people, so who knows; perhaps that’s why we picked him from the shelter, this cat who had been dropped off, adopted, and returned to the shelter a second time, before […]

The dress code is linen at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Unity Temple

HOB and I used to take a staycation every spring.  We’d run around Chicago, visiting far away neighborhoods, going to concerts and plays, and walking around with an architecture book doing self-guided tours.  On several of these vacations we took the train out to Oak Park, our visits always seeming to coincide with an event […]

Chicago vernacular

This time every summer I usually go to a conference.  This year that conference is in Chicago.  While I’m kind of bummed not to be visiting a new city, I’m thinking of this as an opportunity to see Chicago with my traveler’s eyes.  After all, travel is more than seeing sights—it is the experience of […]

All Saints Episcopal Church, allow me to introduce you to Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring

The way I understand art is through other art.  Like I don’t just look at something and say to myself, “Oh here we have a rare example of Midwestern Stick Style architecture from the 1880’s.” What I actually think is “Oh here we have an example of Martha Graham’s Appalachian Spring in the form of […]

Chicago Loop Synagogue’s mid-century modern stained glass

Sandwiched between boring high-rises, the Chicago Loop Synagogue is one of those sacred spaces that make you say “Gah!”. The building, constructed in 1957, is nothing special, but step inside… And CHECK OUT THIS STAINED GLASS. Artist Abraham Rattner loaded his glass masterpiece with symbols of the Jewish faith. And G-d said, “Let there be […]

Brutalism makes a baby in Chicago

Chicago has quite a bit of Brutalism—particularly in hospital buildings and on college campuses—which is weird because this form of architecture does not suggest the nurturing of bodies or young minds. For an appropriate use of Brutalism, I give you the Metropolitan Correctional Center.  Yes, we’re so hardcore in Chicago that we have a Brutalist […]

Where to walk your wife in Chicago

I’m so tired from trying to learn to sleep without sleeping pills that my brain is in a deep freeze.  Talking and writing is like bobbing for apples must think of word stick head in tub of water and try to find the word grab the word with my mouth now what was I saying […]

I’m just here for the gift shops in the Aztec pyramid: a visit to Disney’s Epcot

A few nights ago I was in Norway, eavesdropping on a guy looking for a place to smoke.  The attendant told him “You can’t smoke here but there’s an approved area over by Italy.” I was at Disney’s Epcot Park, which costs $114 a day to visit.  But hey, that price includes the whole world […]

Arrows in our chandeliers: Native American-themed decoration in late 1920’s Chicago

Chicago was originally the domain of Native Americans, including the Pottawatomie, Illinois, and Miami nations.  In fact, in the name Chicago comes from a Native American word for wild garlic, which apparently grew all over the place (as a garlic fan, I wish it still did).  When the area was invaded by Europeans, native people were […]

The privilege of being a mutt

When I was fourteen I changed my last name.  It wasn’t legal until I turned eighteen and visited a judge, but that didn’t stop me from spreading the news of my changed nomenclature to everyone I knew.  I went so far as to use my school’s printing press to create hundreds of business cards featuring […]