So Art Day brought us up through Tuesday. Wednesday, we planned another full day of Chicago-ness and set out early to get Kelly some oatmeal. Oatmeal. I don’t understand it either, but apparently she saw a place that served oatmeal for breakfast with little chunks on top of it and really wanted it. Oatmeal wanted, oatmeal had.
Then we decided to go to the Lincoln Park Zoo, which in reading an Ask Metafilter query about things to in Chicago I found it to be “one of the last free-to-the-public zoos in the United States”. Awesome!
We took the Red Line to Clark and Division and walked out way to the park. We had been here the night before as Second City is pretty close to the “Old Town” section of Chicago. Lincoln Park was hosting a farmers market that day, and as we strolled through the organic bread sellers and the booth with the dozen varities of heirloom tomatoes, I heard the familiar sounds of Bluegrass. Off to my left, I heard a guitar and a banjo kickin’ out the Ralph Stanley jams. I took a seat for a moment, and they immediately ended their song, but then continued with a version of “Keep on the Sunny Side of Life” as if I they had to play down to me to get me up to Bluegrass speed. Resisting my urge to throw my Southern Heritage in their faces, I smiled and rejoined Kelly.
As we walked past the farm in the park and I snapped photos of odd goats and cows, the camera battery decided to go south. Odd, but this Canon SD400 doesn’t have a battery gauge that I am aware of. Dang! There were plenty of animals I would have loved to taken photos of, but alas you’ll just have to imagine a 30lb version of Bocephus (a serval) and lions and tigers and penguins and handlers weighing giant vultures and oh my! The Lincoln Park Zoo is a fantastic open-air old-school kinda zoo that can easily be done in a couple of hours and won’t cost ya a nickel.
We had left Nick’s friendly confines on Sunday morning, and we wanted to catch up with him again before we left, so after the zoo and before Nick’s class, we met up at the Addison station on the Red Line ’cause Kelly wanted to stop back into Strange Cargo for t-shirts and gifts and such. On the food front, we searched for tasty sushi, but alas found none. Instead, we headed down to Nookie’s Tree, a great little diner on North Halsted and caught some tasty sammiches. Side note: Nookie’s Tree will apparently be visited by the Food Network’s Rachael Ray in the near future.
We also stopped into Chicago Comics, a great little comic shop on North Clark. While there, I picked up Joe Sacco’s Notes from a Defeatist, Eric Shanower’s second volume of The Age of Bronze (the story of the Trojan War), and Found Magazine #4. The latter because we were going to see the Found “Lone Surfer of Montana, Kansas” tour stop at the Neofuturist’s Neo-Futarium later that night.
Shortly thereafter, we said our goodbyes to Nick, and Kelly and I poked around Wrigleyville for a while headed up to the Argyle stop (near Nick’s apartment and the Neofutarium). The Found show wasn’t until 8PM, but we stopped into the theatre around 7PM to make sure we could get tickets. The Neofutarium is a little confusing, I must admit. You enter the front door, and are greeted with stairs. Those stairs lead to a landing with two bathrooms, a desk and the entrance to a hallway. No signs for “Theatre”. I heard nary a voice as I tread the creaky boards into the hallway. (The hallways is decorated with odd paintings of our past presidents) Reaching the end of the hallway, I see a door that just says “Kitchen”. Hmm. I enter the kitchen to find a cute girl standing behind a counter. I timidly say “We’re here for the Found show?” She explains it doesn’t start until 8PM and that we could either pay now or come back later, or perhaps have a seat in their “reading room”. Wanting to ensure that we’d have a seat at the show (and not knowing how many people would show up), I opt to pay now. She then gives me a “receipt,” a corner of a legal pad with a hand-written note “2 tickets for FOUND”. We both chuckled as she handed it to me, as this is exactly what might be lost and then later “found” and submitted to “FOUND” magazine. I almost didn’t want to take it so that it could be found! She also recommended we check out The Hopleaf, which was around the block from the Neofutarium. Said something about “a frosty brew”, and I knew I had to go.
The Hopleaf is a great place with an impressive set of taps, set up for mostly Belgian beers. I selected a very tasty “Leffe Brune in what appeared to be a traditional goblet. A good beer — hoppy and spicy (but not overly so, like an IPA), with chocolate and malt notes and a body and head like a stout or porter (somewhere in between). An interesting sweetness to it as well, that certainly places it outside of most of the beers I have tried. Even Kelly had a sip or two and really enjoyed it. “I like beer,” she says.
After our Hopleaf stop, we headed back around the block for the Found Magazine show. The “Reading Room”, which looked like an old dance studio quickly filled with late-20s, early-30s hipster couples, and I browsed the merch table for the latest in FOUND gear. Apparently, they’ve also started publishing “Dirty FOUND”, which is all the stuff too racy for the website and “regular” found. Even packaged in a plastic wrapper! Awesome.
Later, we piled into the smallish theatre, and out comes Davy Rothbart, FOUND found-er on a bicycle and a dayglo orange jacket decorated with spray-paint. Under the jacket were no less than 3 or 4 gold chains with gold dollar-signs, etc. I’d only heard this guy speak via the radio, so this was a bit different than what I was expecting! His voice on the radio was that of an excited young man, perhaps a little self-conscious and with a hint of jittery nervousness. On that front, he was exactly what I expected. Davy is obviously the driving force behind FOUND magazine, and you can tell it by his excitement about each “find”, and the stories he tells. Despite his outward appearance of modest thuggery, his voice and eyes tell you that he truly and deeply respects the pieces he finds. Later, after the show, I asked him if he could tell the difference between pieces found in big cities (like NY or Chicago) and pieces from cities like Louisville. He thought about it a little, and then said “No – the people and emotions behind them are always real, and that never changes”.
The show was great — Davy reading some bits from his “Lost Surfer of Montana, KS” book, detailing his favorite finds and stops on last year’s major press junket for the FOUND book, and his brother Peter doing some songs based on FOUND items (most memorably his version of “The Booty Don’t Stop”, from a found cassette tape of “Booty Jams”). The Neofuturists also did 4 2-minute “plays” based on finds! I even got picked out of the audience to do a foxtrot with a girl while someone read a find. Bizzarre! Much fun was had, and even though we didn’t get a chance to see “Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind”, we did have a boatload of fun — and I got my copy of Found #4 signed by Davy himself. Awesome.
The next morning, we checked out, checked our bags and did some more walking around the Michigan Avenue area, starting at our hotel and essentially walking all the way up to the Clark and Division stop on the Red Line (far!). Kelly found a wonderful jacket at H&M that she had been looking for for-ever and we made it to Midway Airport with plenty of time to spare for our cattle-car ride back to Louisville.
As it turns out, Jason Clark and his lady were on their way back from seeing a show and were on the same flight. We chatted with them a bit, and then sat through our flight home with the loudest and most garrolous group of air-filter salesman I have ever been in listening distance to behind us. It was seriously the Bill Brasky sketch from SNL for about an hour! I learned many things I didn’t already know, like the fact that the J. B. Speed Museum uses a 3-stage filtration system for their archives and that the guy that taught the one guy “all he knew about filters” was a “really arrogant asshole” and a “terrible drunk” but was a hell of a salesman.
We arrived home to find that the cats hadn’t sold out earthly possessions for small fishes, and were glad to be back.