Yes, there are still movie world premieres. We went to one tonight: Love, Charlie: The Rise and Fall of Chef Charlie Trotter
This film is a sympathetic profile of a man who is usually portrayed as a rather unsympathetic person. A little heavy on documentary clichés, perhaps, but still entertaining and worthwhile.
Being a world premiere of a movie about a world famous chef, the audience was a Who’s Who of the Chicago haute cuisine crowd. Most were rather well-dressed; I was not, but I did look like I might be one of the film crew: plaid flannel shirt, blue jeans, Merrells. Grant Achatz sat in front of us.
This afternoon, CVH told me that William Shatner had returned from his short space trip.
“Yes, I saw that in the news,” I replied.
“In Van Horn,” she said. “They could see the Guadalupe Mountains on the way down.”
“Everyone should see Van Horn at least once in their life. We had a good time there.” We had visited Van Horn when we went to the fiftieth anniversary of the UFO crash in Roswell.
“There wasn’t much there twenty-five years ago; I can’t imagine what it looks like now,” she added.
“Probably like Boca Chica,” I guessed. “A lot of highly paid rocket scientists walking around.
“I remember going on vacation in Boca Chica when I was little. The adults rented these beach things called ‘cabañas’, which were completely unadorned concrete block boxes with concrete shelves on the walls holding thin mattresses where you slept. I’m not even sure they had doors. There was a bathroom area in the back, and that was all.”
“After playing in the sand and waves all day, they would put us kids to bed and then go back out to…to…”
“Do God knows what.”
“Yes. We were right on the Mexican border. Heck, we might even have been on the Mexican side. I’m sure they were dirt cheap to rent. Uncle Willis probably hopped in the big Chrysler and got a bunch of cheap tequila.” I paused. “You know, the more I think about this, the better it sounds.”
“They knew how to live, Conrad. They knew how to live.”
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We are lucky in that we live next to Lincoln Park (you can see part of it in the “Edgewater Beach Now” picture on the right side of this blog). Although I have spent many hours in the park this summer, I still haven’t seen all that it has to offer. Today we travelled a few miles south of our building and visited the park’s North Pond. (Lincoln Park is about seven miles long.)
North Pond has been reclaimed, restored, and is now a native prairie and wetland area. We saw lots of butterflies and bees in the extensive wildflower fields. Down by the lake we saw a Great Blue Heron.
There was a birder there who identified the heron for us, and told us that it was a young one, probably making his first trip down from Minnesota or Northern Michigan to the south. He could tell by its color that it was male. He said it would probably winter over in Texas or Florida. I remember seeing birds like this on January bike rides through Brookshire.
Ducks and turtles were also out on the lake. In addition, we found a Michelin-starred little restaurant tucked away in the park.
Although we did not eat there – advance reservations only – CVH went inside and spoke with the general manager, and now she wants to go back and have brunch.
We continued our walk and went around the Nature Museum, which has been edifying Chicago residents since 1869, if you can imagine. That was before the Great Fire! (Although North Pond was not here at the time, the Fire did reach this far, miles from the O’Leary barn.) The original museum burned in the fire, as you might expect.
The grounds around the Museum are a delight for city dwellers. The location was popular with what appeared to be wedding engagement photo shoots. We tried not to insert ourselves in too many of them, but it was a busy place.
Not as busy inside the park as it was right outside, though. It was perfect Sunday weather for visiting the park, and traffic was horrendous. Outside the park cars kept circling, looking for parking spots and honking their horns. Fortunately, we didn’t hear any of this inside the park, and more fortunately, we took the bus.
After the museum area, we went to the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool.
The Lily Pool has been around since 1889, and its fortunes waxed and waned over the years until it was restored about twenty years ago. It is just stunning now. More photo shoots. Old-timers will note that the Muzak has been removed.
The Balbo Monument consists of an ancient Roman breccia column on top of a plinth. It commemorates a difficult transatlantic seaplane crossing by the Italian aviator Italo Balbo. The column dates to the period of Julius Caesar, and comes from the ancient port city of Ostia. It was a gift to Chicago from Benito Mussolini.
I’ve always been fascinated by ancient Rome, so I thought I’d best go see it while I could, before it is cancelled out of existence (it has already been removed from Google Maps). I rode a Divvy bike downtown to seek it out.
It’s not too hard to find if you’re looking for it, but it doesn’t stand out anymore. The pine trees in the photo above have grown all around it to hide it from view, and it’s surrounded by a ten foot chain link fence. Still, it’s fascinating to see something that stood in the city when and where Cleopatra’s ships unloaded their grain to make Roman bread. As long as you don’t focus on who gave it to us.