Chicago Songs, Poems, and Visits

by Kim on April 5, 2010 · 12 comments

Last week was my Spring Break, but I didn’t really get much reading done because I was distracted and my brain was basically shut off. On Thursday Boyfriend and I took a mini-vacation to Chicago because, despite living in the Midwest, I’d never actually been to Chicago before (except for O’Hare Airport).

On the three plus hour drive there we traded some of our favorite artsy things from or about Chicago. His main contribution was the song “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens, off his album Come On Feel The Illinoise:

My best Chicago pop culture/art reference was Carl Sandburg’s poem “Chicago” from his 1916 book Chicago Poems. I remember reading this poem in both high school and college for some intro English classes, and always loved really defiant way Sandburg writes about his city.

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While we were in Chicago we did a lot of the typical Chicago things — Grant Park, Millennium Park (where we got to see “the Bean”), the Chicago Institute of Art, Gino’s Pizza, and a view of the city from the Signature Room on the 96th Floor. All in all, a nice way to take a break during Spring Break. Still, there are a tono f things to visit again and I can’t wait for another trip.

What are some of your favorite books, movies, songs, or poems about Chicago?

Jenny April 5, 2010 at 10:59 am

I’m sure this is really obvious, but The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of mine. I loved it that Niffenegger created such a strong sense of place in Chicago; it was a cool contrast to the whole wobbly-time issue that her protagonists were dealing with.

Kim April 6, 2010 at 11:59 am

Jenny: How could I forget about The Time Traveler’s Wife — I love that book. Good point about the strong sense of place in contrast to moving time. I think she did a lot of interesting things with contrast in the book, actually. One of my favorites was the contrast of Henry as someone always moving (through time, and in real life through running, etc.), and Claire as someone constantly sitting in place.

bermudaonion (Kathy) April 5, 2010 at 2:35 pm

My mom’s from Rockford, so I’ve been to Chicago quite a few times, but I haven’t been there in years. Your trip sounds like so much fun!

Kim April 6, 2010 at 11:59 am

bermudaonion: We did have a lot of fun. I’d never been to Chicago before, so it was fun to see some of the big sites in the city.

Julie April 5, 2010 at 3:51 pm

My favorite Chicago book is definitely The Time Traveler’s Wife. I’ve been to almost all the places that Clare and Henry frequented, including the music venues. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is my favorite Chitown movie. Some of it was even filmed at my high school. Sounds like you had a nice visit. If you come again try to do some things outside of downtown. There are so many cool neighborhoods that are a little bit more off the beaten path and definitely worth a visit to.

Kim April 6, 2010 at 12:00 pm

Julie: Wow, it’s so cool you had a movie taped at your school! I can’t say I’ve had anything that cool that I can think of.

Next time we do want to get out of downtown, maybe get to some museums and things we missed this time. There’s of stuff to do there.

Jeanne April 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm

My favorite is the musical “Chicago” (there’s a movie of it now, with Renee Zelweger, Richard Gere, and Catherine Zeta Jones). I first saw it on stage in London, and it was so funny, the parts the Brits emphasized and laughed at. It made me feel like such an American.

Kim April 6, 2010 at 12:02 pm

Jeanne: I tried to get Boyfriend to listen to the Chicago soundtrack on the way, but he’s not a big musical person and refused. Chicago is a really American musical, so I imagine it would be interesting to see in London. I saw a Tennessee Williams play in London a few years ago and it was funny to see how they portrayed the South and people who lived there.

Lisa April 6, 2010 at 11:17 pm

I don’t live as close as you do to Chicago but still much too close to never have been in all of my years. I’m hoping to get there this summer. Love the song!

Kim April 12, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Lisa: I can’t wait to go back again — there are so many things I didn’t get to see. I hope you can get there this summer :)

Melanie April 22, 2010 at 7:43 pm

My favorite Chicago Book is “Devil in the White City”. It incorporates a lot of history into the story about a serial killer on the loose during the World’s Fair in Chicago. It was absolutely wonderful.

I am from Chicago though, so I pretty much eat up anything that is Chicago-related. The next time you visit, go to China Town and eat at the Moon Palace restaurant (right past the fire station on Cermak). Order the hot and sour soup, spring rolls, and steamed dumplings. You won’t be disappointed.

Kim April 24, 2010 at 8:05 am

Melanie: I have Devil in the White City on the pile of books that I want to read immediately on the chair next to my desk. My sister read it a long time ago and said it was really good.

That’s for the Chinese food recommendation — it sounds awesome. I do love steamed dumplings :)

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