Thursday, June 28, 2007

Summer in 'Da City

So.. I just got back from a vacation in Spain. More about that sometime (Yes, it was wonderful…)

Less than 24 hours after coming home, I started shooting video for a DVD with Ben LeRoy of Bleak House. As some of you know, Bleak House is publishing the Chicago Blues anthology which includes stories from 21 Chicago crime fiction authors (including everyone in The Outfit). It will be released in October, and anyone who buys a hard-cover collector’s edition will receive a DVD along with the stories.

The DVD will include interviews with many of the authors as well as video of the locations in which their stories take place. So today we started shooting: at Rosa’s on Armitage… at BLUES in Lake View/Lincoln Park… at Milwaukee and North, the fictional location of V.I. Warshawski’s office. Tomorrow we’ll be shooting on Lower Wacker, Michigan Avenue, Daley Plaza, the Midway, and Chinatown. Saturday will be the north side and Wrigley Field. Ben is also going to shoot B-roll of the Lake, Navy Pier, and Sears Tower.

I can't wait. I’ve lived here for 30 years, and I still love to explore Chicago. And capturing it on video in summer, when Chicago is at its best, is unbeatable. “Taste” starts this weekend… (If you have to ask, you haven’t lived in this part of the universe)… this weekend is also the music festival at Fitzgerald’s… and there are probably a dozen street fairs and festivals scheduled.

But it’s not just the big events I wish we could capture on camera. It’s watching people lounging on porches in sleeveless shirts and tank tops on a hot humid evening, moving slowly, fanning themselves.


It’s pulling out of Grant Park garage on a crisp summer night heading north on Michigan Avenue. The Tribune Tower looms in the foreground, the street lights sparkle, and the guy who plays the sax on the bridge is belting out a blues number that you have to roll your window down to hear…


It’s digging into a deep dish pizza from Uno’s or Malnati’s with a beer and wondering how anything could possibly taste that good…


It’s strolling through the English walled garden at the Botanic Gardens, pretending I’m a character in a Jane Austen novel…

It’s joining hundreds of thousands of other cheerful, sweaty, half-drunk Chicagoans downtown for the fireworks on the 3rd – or is it the 4th – this year…

It’s enduring a day of blistering sidewalks and weather that’s great for tomatoes but not so good for humans… then having to wear sweat shirts and jeans 24 hours later…

When I first moved to Chicago from Washington DC thirty years ago, I was still a news junkie. I’d watch the raised eyebrow of Bill Kurtis and the sometimes self- righteous anger of Walter Jacobson, and I’d think that compared to DC, Chicago was so parochial. What I realize now is that parochial is good. Like Tip O’Neill says about politics, it’s all local. And while Chicago has its warts -- which I hope we continue to discuss here -- it has spawned something for me that DC never did -- a sense of community.

That’s part of the reason for Chicago Blues. I’m a Chicagoan now, and I’d love you to discover the city with me. Look for excerpts from the DVD at Bleak House and on my website this fall.

So, all you Chicagoans, past and present... what's your favorite summer spot?

4 comments:

Maryann Mercer said...

Sadly, my favorite Chicago summer spot is no longer...the old Comiskey Park. As a kid, I'd go to Sox games with my family. As a teen, I'd go on Saturdays with two or three baseball-nut friends of mine for batting practice and the game.(Had a major crush on Nellie Fox and Little Luis Aparicio in those days)I remember the first fireworks when one of the Southsiders hit a homer and just the overall good times. The 'new" Sox home doesn't compare. My other favorite summer spots? A walk along Lake Michigan, Grant Park, and the zoo.

Marcus Sakey said...

My front steps, with a six pack of beer and a cigar and a good book I'm halfway through.

A chair half in the Lake Michigan surf, feet in the water, slanting sun on my face.

Ravinia, trees strung with faerie lights and a bottle of wine. Doesn't matter who's playing.

The bench outside the gibbon's cage in the zoo on a weekday afternoon.

And wandering aimlessly. Chicago is a great city for aimless evening wandering.

bhenner said...

I remember the streets in Lincoln Park where I grew up. In summer it seemed that the neighborhood stayed awake all night long. I loved walking along Clark and Broadway and inevitably finding entertainment, often new types of food or drink, but mostly interaction with the many unusual people who emerged for a nocturnal experience.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college, I worked downtown in the summer, commuting from the 'burbs. Once I spent the night with a friend who had an apartment in Old Town. I walked to LSD to catch the 151 and the sun sparkled silver off the lake. 30 years later I still get that "I'm a grown-up in a spectacularly beautiful big city" feeling when I see the sun on the lake, now from my office on the 31st floor of Three First National.