La Ville de Vent

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Just back from my long weekend in Chicago. Being that I am scouting cities around the world as possible near-future residences, I was amped about visiting chi-town for the first time, and it did not disappoint. Chicago is a beautiful city with a lot to do and see, and really laid back, friendly citizens. As a NY’er I wasn’t used to it… I had to learn not be so skeptical of ppl who stop you on the streets to pass out flyers, ask questions or advertise events. I found myself checking my pockets way too many times… not that I had any good reason to other than my innate paranoia of being jacked. But never fear, travelers – you can leave your box cutters at home. South-side Chicago is definitely rough, but as long as you don’t venture too far out you should be straight. The Mile was Magnificent and I spent an entire day walking around, taking pictures, and being an annoying tourist. I met some great ppl and made some new friends in a city I’d like to visit more often. I also stayed in a baLLer apartment in Streeterville procured by my bigshot companion for the weekend..the above pic of the view was taken (amazingly, on my usually shitty credit-card rewards gift camera) from the terrace outside the bedroom. I done moved on up, biatch. Well, at least for a weekend.

Tips/Notes:

¤For skyline views, go to the one at the Hancock Observatory. The view is beautiful, you can see the Sear’s tower, and admission is quick and hassle-free. I can’t stress how important that is. Skip the Sear’s Tower at all costs! It sucks cuz you can’t see the main thing you wanna see in a Chicago skyline – the Sear’s Tower itself. Worst of all, the lines are craZy because the security there is airport-like. There was only ONE working metal detector and the line was out the freakin door. Then after you get cavity searched, you go to a separate line to buy tix [buy online if you can..thank God we did]. THEN you go to a room where they make you wait for 15 minutes before they herd you into a screening room where they make you watch a crappy video about the tower’s construction which they stole from the History Channel (I’m gonna check to make sure that they have fulfilled their copyright obligations…if not, they’re going down). Only then can you cram into the elevator that takes you up to the skydeck…the elevator pressure kills your eardrums, worse than any flight Ive ever been on. Oh, and not only do they keep you locked up forever in lines and rooms, they don’t provide cell reception either, efefctively cutting off any lifelines. I felt like a freaking hostage. What a waste of time. [I could go on but I am now remembering that this post is supposed to be about how I loved Chicago…but angry rants are so much more fun.]

¤ I went in March cuz I wanted to go with my friend who had an important obligation…otherwise try go in April or later, when theyre are so many more events and the weather isn’t nearly as cold, and getting around is so much easier (the outdoor trolley runs, the free walking tours, the boat trips around the city, etc). Plus you can make use of the beach that borders the city in the north.

¤ Deep dish pizza is good, but this chicago-pizza-is-better-than-new york-pizza crap I’m hearing needs to be put to rest, cuz it ain’t [see, ranting is easier].

¤ Where are you, Chicago arabs? People there were friendly, but I still felt deserted. I went to two shisha places, and the first was blasting reggae music, and the second had pop music. No arabs in sight, only brownies (desi ppl) and the occasional eclectic white posse. WTF? Where were the TVs showing music videos of Nancy Ajram hand washing laundry in a bucket between her legs, Tamer Hosni wearing tight leather pants and pretending to ride a motorcycle, Rubi in a red-dental-floss-and-sequin outfit doing her seizure-like belly dance in the middle of a bustling street, Hisham Abbas attempting to bhangra in front of a cutout of the Taj Mahal, or some random heavily made-up arabic chick singing a pop song while feigning exercise on an elliptical machine while the camera zooms in and out to capture all the glorious, supposedly-seductive angles? Where were the rude and spacey waiters who take your order and never come back, then overcharge you before making up some excuse about how things always cost extra on Wednesdays between 5:56 and 7:42pm? And where were the all the chubby old arab men alternating shisha pipes with camel cigarettes, chest hair protruding, bitching about politics and how business is at the store, and competing with young wannabe arab casanovas with overly gelled hair and freshly threaded eyebrows [and chest hair protruding as well..we re all hairy bastards] for the attention of the band of young arab girls who all told their parents they were going to a friend’s place to work on a project for school so they could get out of the house and away from the watchful eyes of their moms whose only goal in life is to preserve the freshness of their daughter’s flowers? If I move to Chicago, I’m opening up a shisha bar, with the full array of arab-isms intact.

Thanks for a great weekend, Chicago. We shall meet again.

Share you thoughts on Chi-town!

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