Monday, December 31, 2007

Dinner, dinner, a show, dinner

Here I am back in Chicago, just covering a few random Chicagoland things I did in December, mostly with my exploring companion DK--"proper" posts about specific explorations (including the story of how I'm now in an unofficial girl gang of explorers, who've outwitted police in two different cities) soon, of course. Here's the candle I used for the first dinner I've gotten to make for anyone in a long while (it wasn't a candlelit dinner, though), 12/13/07.

And here's the food: "real" baked macaroni and cheese, from Mark Bittman's new cookbook, sweet potato (baked) "fries," broccoli and cauliflower with lemon and butter, sauteed seitan (wheat-meat) with mushroom gravy, (vegan) chocolate cake with chocolate chips added. With fruit punch. In other words, vegetarian comfort food. It went over well, except DK had never had seitan before and found it "spongy." I want to try more from the cookbook; how exciting that the library a half-block away just got it, and the librarian (who's hipper than I realized) recommended Vegan With a Vengeance (already own it!) when I checked out.

Friday Dec. 14 I was wandering around and noticed this vacant building (actually, two attached buildings) at the corner of Lawrence and Clark looked awfully close to demolition. No workers were around that afternoon and to my surprise I was able to walk right in, but only at ground level. There was a way into the apartment parts but I didn't want to try. I could tell this was a building that used to be fairly nice but has been altered into ugliness--much like my favorite example of this phenomenon, the weird gray "castle" at the northwest intersection of Grand and Milwaukee. The only nice parts were the light green pediments--three on the building.

I came back the next day, earlier, prepared to spend a little time. I walked in and again noted the horribly warped floor, afraid I'd suddenly plummet to the basement. I was about to go three rooms in when a man--obviously not a worker or security, but a vagrant/possible scrapper--walked in from outside. Neither of us said anything; I just looked at the floor and quickly walked out.

I walked east to Broadway for what would be my third meal of the month at Golden House. I tend to neglect this place; it's one of the diners that closes "early" (6:30, which is odd; most usually close around 3-4 or 8-9; why close right in the middle of dinnertime?). I'd had a franks-and-beans dish, and pancakes with "pipin' hot pineapple" (had to try it) and whipped cream, and this time I ordered lasagna. It'd been 30 days since I'd had coffee/caffeine. The waitress asked "coffee?" and I said "no" but she brought it anyway. How cruel--I was only a few hours away from technically making it a month. So I pushed it to the side of the table, and she eventually took it away.

She brought the coffee, but forgot my lentil soup until my lasagna showed up and I reminded her. She walked away and before I could remember that I wasn't in a sitcom or a movie, I put my head down and actually (lightly) banged my forehead on the table in frustration. The hipster guys at the adjacent booth noticed. What a dork. Anyway, dinner was pretty good. I think they're the best "Golden" in Chicago.

The evening of Friday the 14th, DK took me to see Duran Duran at the historic Chicago Theatre. I'd only been there twice before (Ukrainian dancers with my parents years ago, and Conan O'Brien's show in April 2006--that merits its own story). This was my first-ever chance to take photos inside (of course I wasn't supposed to during the concert). We had seats up so high they were chairs, not "real" seats, but I didn't care, we stood for most of Duran Duran anyway (and no dilemma of sharing armrests with strangers).

This was a special show for a radio station, the opening act (the singer from Train) was mediocre (the Sun-Times review called it "housewife rock") but Duran Duran were pretty good--mostly the hits, and nearly all the hits I could think of (except "Hungry Like the Wolf"). "Rio" was especially great. I told DK how I'd bought a 7" record of "Notorious" back when I was a kid, back when K-Mart sold vinyl. I admit, getting their Greatest Hits CD and reviewing it before the show helped quite a bit. I thanked DK for this already, but here I'll say thanks again. Back to Sat. the 15th--I also checked out a candy factory I'd heard was being demolished, and got some demolition-porn-type shots outside. I had a nice surprise there the next day, but I'll save that for later.

Then I went to the Greyhound station to buy my ticket one week in advance for my Iowa trip (which I didn't take until 8 days later, that's another story)--I know it sounds ridiculous that I always go buy my tickets in person. The employee was incredibly friendly and helpful; I even learned that Jefferson runs buses out of the station as well, and it'd be cheaper to take them to Des Moines. Except it'd be a 6 a.m.-6 p.m. trip, so I declined this time around. I took the Blue Line over to my favorite underground station, Jackson/Van Buren. I seriously can't get enough photos of the shiny new tiles. Mostly because the photos I take don't turn out, so I need to keep getting more. Saturday evening is a terrific time to get photos there; not many people around but not scary either. Here's some people paying attention to the "concert" going on.

DK and I took a random driving trip the next Tuesday; I can't even remember what-all we were trying to see, but we saw a lot of Ogden and Cicero and Berwyn and went clear out to Brookfield (I've been through via Metra) where there was a nice little hobby shop (if I needed more things to collect, I'd collect the replicas of classic Greyhound buses they sold) and a family restaurant with a couple different names and a cow on the roof (who knows?). Dinner was just okay, but since I've eaten at nearly all these places in Chicago, I need to work on the suburbs.

Happy New Year everyone!

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