Thursday, June 20, 2013

PFR #2: Midwest Surprises

Picking up from the last post, Philly to Cleveland was the first "real" (400+ miles in a day) drive of the trip. Flew by.

Sometimes expectations can poison a good experience by making it seem subpar. Our total lack of expectations for Cleveland created an opportunity that the city danced all over. 
We (Erin S and I) were in town to break up the PA-IL drive and see The Airborne Toxic Event. TATE was amazing the first time I saw them but not as good the second. Their newest album Such Hot Blood was a step further away from that band I couldn’t get enough of three years ago, so I wasn't expecting too much. Anyhoo, the concert venue (House of Blues) was one of the more interesting places I've seen a show: small, walls full of art, mixed up audience (some highschoolish kids of course but many 30 somethings and mamas and papas too.)TATE played an unreal set: the singer was so passionate and energetic that he almost certainly had been snorting the funny stuff. The band stuck with the old record for most of the set. So good. 
After the show we across the street to the Horseshoe Casino and I played PLO during the Bruins OT.  Tornado/storm warnings kept interrupting the game with maps for Canadian provinces I had never heard of. 
Later, we met a curious girl at a Roulette table. Her boyfriend had burnt through a pile of money and then left her at the table.  She kept winning despite not knowing the rules (so degen on both counts.) She had the wristband from the concert so we bonded. She was surprised by our fondness for the Cleve so far, but later acnowleged it was a good place to be "if you like going to sports games and shit" since all the stadiums are downtown. 
KCCO Cleveland (my shirt got some love, lot of Chivers downtown!)

Next stop was Chicago. We drove and coffeed ourselves through the hangover fatigue from the concert. The ride did a number on us but know what makes you feel instantly like yourself again? Seeing superhost Lisa Lerner walk to you on the sidewalk of a swanky Lincoln Park neighborhood. 
I'm in this pic somewhere
Chicago seemed like someone averaged New York and Boston together then added a whole bunch of parks and told most of the ugly people to leave. Chi-town somehow seemed to have both a more physically active and emotionally relaxed population than NYC. The lake is probably a big part of that- people tend to want to be outside. Also- dudes were super well dressed. At the end of all this I want to get some pocket squares.
Some highlights:
-Deep dishing at Lou Malanti's
-Sweet laughing at Second City's Let Them Eat Chaos
Rambo crashed the dinner party
-Minority fanning it watching the B's in Blackhawk Territory
-Cover to cover digesting a novel in Millenium Park 
-Coming in 3'rd place Bowling
-ZOMG it's another big building Architecture tour
-"This kid's a good dancer, wait he's a professional?" at John Barlycourt

Highlight of the trip was the last night. Doing something big and fancy can be fun but often the best nights are a homecooked meal eating on a roof (with a beautiful skyline) eaten in the company of friends you haven't seen in a while. 

One other thing for now: when I tell people I'm from Boston, they bring up the marathon almost immediately. People are curious and compassionate but for now it's what the city is known for. Definitely not the Bruins since very few Kentucky bars even had the game on.

Solid Bowler, Excellent Tour Guide/Host, Better Friend/Person Lisa 

Next time: driving South, Bourbon Tours, Leweville (that's how it's pronounced apparently) and all things between now and New Orleans.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Post from The Road #1 (Love notes to cities)

Hello from Philadelphia!
It might be the heat or the "what am I doing today" joie de vivre but it's starting to feel like summer.
Thanks you Jana, Chris, Sara, Erica, Ian for the hospitality so far. It's already been a big beautiful pile of perspective-strengthening, deep thought inducing fun.

It's only after leaving that I realize I've seen what I wanted to see in you. Maybe it's in calling you home that I don't look at you and smell you and explore you the way I have been in these new places.
Anyway, I wouldn't want you to think I wasn't thinking about you. Next time I won't take you as for granted. I'm so proud to tell people about the times we've had and brag about the Bruins and the pockets of hip and the growth of the food truck scene. Really, I promise, it isn't you- you're great- it's me that needed a change. Don't be jealous of New Orleans or Arizona- I haven't even met them yet! Please keep all my friends safe and make sure they have a wonderful summer.

New York-
Remember those time I said you weren't right for me or that I didn't miss you? I was lying.
New York, you crazy, you can make yourself right for just about anyone. That's why you're New York: the standard any urban place in the world tries to rival.
After the steak chez Bianco and your Zombie Hut Elixers on Thursday, I dismissed any criticism of your style. I'd be lucky to perhaps hang around Brooklyn longterm someday.
It didn't matter that it rained for two days after that- you gave me smiles and hugs and the most delicious Cuban meal I've ever had. I will see you again NY, don't let the haters get you down. They're only teasing your rediculousness because they know you're so cool.

Got To
It's been real Philly. I can't say I understand you, but I've noticed some big smiles poking through all the roughness. Any self deprecating cynicism you wear can't cover your muscular body of blue collar pride. Don't compare yourself to New York or DC or the other guys nearby- if you ever meet on the street you can beat them up. If they brag about having more "swag" than you, give them a quick slap across the face. Other cities are filled with people trying to go places, often pretending to be there already. Your people know who they are- self awareness and humble pride are rare. We likely won't ever see each other again, so know that you were my first (time I fired a handgun) and thank you for the steak and cheese subsandwichhero, hoagie.

Can't wait to meet you Cleveland, Chicago, Louisville!
Until next time, be in touch. If you're still reading this I almost certainly miss you already.