Tag Archives: culture

Bicycling to the Ballet

Yesterday I had the pleasure of bicycling downtown to see the Joffrey Ballet’s Othello.  The ride was about 7 miles each way, along the lakefront trail.  The theatre is close to south Grant Park, which looked very nice on this beautiful day.

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And at my destination, here is the view from my regular seat in the front row of the balcony.

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What these photos fail to show is the wind.  It was really, really windy – even by Chicago standards.  This resulted in a super fast bike ride down the lakefront trail on the way to the show (I arrived 10 minutes earlier than I expected) and a strenuous bike ride back home with the wind in my face.  I popped Betty into an easy gear and focused on spinning.  I got quite a workout!

Also, the photos don’t show the black spandex shorts I wore under my dress – necessary, as the wind blew the light silk around like crazy.  :-)

Did anyone else have a fun ride this weekend?

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Koyaanisqatsi: life out of balance

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On Sunday, my friend Maria and I went to a screening and panel discussion of Koyaanisqatsi at indie theater Facets. Koyaanisqatsi (subtitled “life out of balance), a sequence of images set to a score by Philip Glass, is described as such:

An art-house circuit sensation, this feature-length documentary is visually arresting and possesses a clear, pro-environmental political agenda. Without a story, dialogue, or characters, Koyaanisqatsi (1983) is composed of nature imagery, manipulated in slow motion, double exposure or time lapse, juxtaposed with footage of humans’ devastating environmental impact on the planet. The message of director Godfrey Reggio is clear: humans are destroying the planet, and all of human progress is pointlessly foolish.

Sounded wonderful in a beautifully depressing way – sign me up! For a better understanding of the film, watch the short trailer below:

For me the film displays an overwhelming grimness and hopelessness for the human species. City life is portrayed as absolutely Kafkaesque, with a focus on endless streams of cars and people being sucked into and spit out of public transportation like so many hotdogs on an assembly line. By the end, I felt ready to flee Chicago for a quiet country cabin in the middle of nowhere.

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However, this feeling of oppression lifted as soon as I stepped outside and started riding my bicycle home. Nothing seems so grim while bicycling down tree-lined streets in the sunshine and fresh winter air. I really think I would not have lasted in the big city this long (6 years and counting!) without my bicycle, because being stuck on a crowded subway train or in car traffic every single day is oppressive. Bicycling allows me to break away from all that.

(Here is what I wore on my bike, before piling on the winter layers.)

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You can watch all 1 hour and 26 minutes of the film for free on Hulu. Warning: if you watch, be sure to have some kittens, puppies, or bicycles nearby afterward to cheer you up.

Has anyone else seen Koyaanisqatsi? What did you think?

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Bicycling to Picasso

On Saturday, I visited the Art Institute in downtown Chicago for a lecture on the museum’s new Picasso exhibit.  The outing involved a total of 14 miles of bicycling in 15-20 degree temps.  No big deal.  ;-)  I set out on Betty Foy wearing my new Wolford tights with a dress, trench coat and suede knee boots.

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Unfortunately, once I got going, I realized that I was quite underdressed for the weather, with freezing toes and thighs.

But there was no turning back – all I could do was make the best of the situation, which was not difficult, considering the beautiful surroundings.

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Despite the chill, I felt great after the 7 mile ride and happy to spend time with my friends Sara, Chika and Glenn.

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The Art Institute is one of my favorite places in the city.  I really should go more often, since I have a membership this year that allows for free admission.

The indoor sculpture courtyard is a must-see during every visit.
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Another favorite sight is Chagall’s American Windows.

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After the museum, we headed through the Loop to have a drink and a bite at Pops for Champagne.  The ride there was lovely, as we got to take advantage of the Dearborn protected bike lane.
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Fortified with food and drink, I enjoyed my freezing but refreshing bike ride home.
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As always, bicycling around made my day out in Chicago twice as enjoyable.  :-)

Did you have a fun outing by bike this weekend?

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Summer Night Rides

Most of my end-of-the-day rides this summer have been in the late evening or night.   There are so many fun events in Chicago right now, I rarely go straight home after work.  Such was the case last night, when my friend Chika and I biked home at 11 pm after a wonderful outdoor concert by the Grant Park Orchestra.

Pritzker Pavilion in Millenium Park

Frozen Planet with a live orchestra

Chika and her Linus on the Lakefront Trail

Betty Foy sans rear light

Biking later in the evening is wonderfully refreshing.  I avoid evening rush hour: the hottest, most polluted, and busiest time of day.

Unfortunately, my rear light (held on by an old rubber band) fell off while I was going through a big intersection and broke into three pieces. The intersection was too dangerous to attempt retrieval, so now I need to buy a new light and actually attach it properly.  Luckily, my new Po Campo pannier has a huge reflector on the back, but I find a red rear blinkie light to be a necessity, in addition to a reflector.

Does anyone else find themselves biking home later this summer, either to beat the heat or as a result of other activities?  Make sure you have good front and rear lights!

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Paris Opera Ballet Picnic

{Our Roll Models series will return next Tuesday, after the holiday.  In its place today is a little story about a beautiful night out in Chicago.  Have a great Independence Day, Americans!}

On Wednesday, I enjoyed a free showing of the ballet Giselle, performed by the Paris Opera Ballet, in Chicago’s amazing Millennium Park.  The performance was a live telecast from a nearby theatre and the acoustics in the pavilion were wonderful.

The advantage of seeing a ballet on the lawn instead of in the theatre is laying out a picnic blanket and enjoying some wine and cheese in the fresh air.

A picnic is more fun when shared, so I gathered together my friends Sara and Jerry, Gigi and Chika, Maria and Seth (and Glenn, not pictured :-).

As the sun set in time for the second act, and the 90 degree heat lifted, the pavilion took on a magical feel, with shining city lights all around.

The group of us biked home together up the Lakefront Trail under the night sky.  A beautiful end to a beautiful night.  Jumping on the L train just would not have been right.  :)

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Tuesdays on the Terrace

Have I mentioned that summers in Chicago are the best?  ‘Cause they are!

Last week, I went to the Museum of Contemporary Art for Tuesdays on the Terrace, a free event with admission to the exhibits and the back garden, where a jazz band entertained and people enjoyed fresh grilled food and drinks.  I lounged on a blanket with my friends Chika and Linda, enjoying the outside ambiance.

The museum is right by Lake Michigan and Chika walked me to the lakefront trail at the end of the evening.  Coco is a bit too big for her, but I think they make a lovely pair.

I enjoyed my bike ride home in the evening, totally content.  Bicycling with the fresh air and sunset and skyline is the best way to end a Tuesday.  Certainly better than a usual mid-week bike commute.

I plan to go to as many Tuesdays on the Terrace events as possible this summer.  After all, the event is free!  ;)  No reason not to take advantage of all the culture Chicago offers.

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Favorite books of 2011

Continuing with our “Favorite of 2011″ series (read about our favorite albums here), I present our lists of favorite books of 2011.  We are both voracious readers and enjoyed our fair share of new books in 2011, especially Trisha, who is a book reviewer—as in reading and reviewing books is part of her full time job—so we put a lot of thought into our picks.  :)

Trisha’s Top 10

Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie
This Burns My Heart by Samuel Park
The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
Bossypants by Tina Fey
To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild
11/22/63 by Stephen King
Blueprints for Building Better Girls by Elissa Schappell
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Ghost Lights by Lydia Millet

Honorable mentions: Your Voice in My Head by Emma Forrest; Learning to Swim by Sara J. Henry; The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht; Boomerang by Michael Lewis; The Adults by Alison Espach; Started Early, Took My Dog by Kate Atkinson; Silver Sparrow by Tayari Jones.

2011 books still on my TBR: Swamplandia!; Zone One; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; The Astral by Kate Christensen; The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt; Blue Nights by Joan Didion.

Most overrated book of 2011: I think Dottie and I concur on this one: The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern.

Dottie’s Top 10

Swamplandia! by Karen Russell
The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht
Zone One by Colson Whitehead
Irma Voth by Miriam Toews
State of Wonder by Ann Patchett
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
Ten Thousand Saints by Eleanor Henderson
A Taste of Salt by Martha Southgate
Gypies by Koudelka/Aperture (photo book)
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling (audio book)

Honorable mentions: Most of the best books that I read in 2011 were actually written in 2010 or before and therefore were not eligible for this list.  Otherwise, they would have knocked off all but the top 3 (2010 was an amazing year for novels!).  They are: Super Sad True Love Story by Gary Shteyngart, Room by Emma Donoghue, The Known World by Edward P. Jones, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan, Great House by Nicole Krauss, Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, Jump at the Sun by Kim McLarin, So Much for That by Lionel Shriver, People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks, and Freedom by Jonathan Franzen.

2011 books still on my TBR: Catherine the Great by Robert K. Massie, The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, 11/22/63 by Stephen King, and Dreams of Joy by Lisa See.

We’d love to hear – what were your favorite books of 2011?

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I Love the City and Free Events

Being job-free has forced me to seek out new types of cultural events with an emphasis on free, free, free and cheap. I love living in the city because there is so much to choose from and so much of it is free. Or cheap.

On Friday night we met up with Elizabeth of BikeCommuters for her friend’s show, musician Javier Mendoza. The show was free, although contributing to the tip jar and drinking a beer required a bit of money. Still a deal for a great night out.

A picture of Elizabeth taking a picture of Greg taking a picture of us

A picture of Elizabeth taking a picture of Greg taking a picture of us

Saturday was jam-packed with freebies and I traveled from place-to-place on my bike, of course.

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Cycling to Chinatown

Chinese New Year Parade

Chinese New Year Parade

Sunday was a rare warmer day in Chicago, with temperatures in the mid to high 30’s. We took advantage of the weather by cycling to Chinatown to meet friends for lunch and watch the Chinese New Year parade. (Nothing like riding a 50 pound bike 20 miles to burn off a big lunch.) What a nice feeling! I wore a light jacket and only one pair of gloves. There was life back on the lakeshore trail, including plenty of unleashed dogs running into my path. All these fair-weather people should try poking their heads out the other 180 days of winter. It’s really not so bad.

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