My wife wanted to go somewhere with blue water for our anniversary, so of course I booked a flight to the only place I could think of that has blue water, Chicago. Chicago is an iconic city, home of the Magnificent Mile, Oprah’s TV empire, Bozo, and world-renowned vascular surgeon, Dr. Richard Kimble. For those of you not familiar with Dr. Kimble, you obviously did not have TNT, TBS, or USA from about 1996-2009 because he was the main character in the movie The Fugitive, which at almost any time of day could be found playing on one of those channels during that period. The Fugitive is one of those movies that, if I am channel surfing and I land on it, I am hooked for the remainder of the movie. Even though I have seen it no less that 30 times, if I came across it tonight I would watch. So in honor of the Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones masterpiece, let me review some of the highlights of our Chicago trip paired with movie quotes from The Fugitive.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: [Briefing all the sheriffs, deputies, police officers, and law enforcement officials surrounding him] Alright, listen up, ladies and gentlemen, our fugitive has been on the run for ninety minutes. Average foot speed over uneven ground barring injuries is 4 miles-per-hour. That gives us a radius of six miles. What I want from each and every one of you is a hard-target search of every gas station, residence, warehouse, farmhouse, henhouse, outhouse and doghouse in that area. Checkpoints go up at fifteen miles. Your fugitive's name is Dr. Richard Kimble. Go get him.
This quote is perfect to start off a recap of our trip. In the movie, the scene shows Deputy Gerard briefing the officers and the video then cuts away to Dr. Kimble running through the woods. Well, it felt like we had a fugitive on our plane because when we pulled into the gate at O’hare and the seat belt light dinged off, a man at the back of the plane jumped up and started working his way forward like he was running from the law. There is a group of people I will just never understand: the people who immediately stand up when a plane stops. You know these people. They are the ones who try to grab a carry-on two bins up like it is going somewhere, or the ones who immediately jump up — but they have a window seat, so they are trapped — and they just stand there with their neck contorted in some crazy way, leaning halfway over the person next to them. We are on a plane with two seats on one side and one seat on the other side. It is a small plane; the entire plane can deboard in approximately 3 minutes. Just stay in your seat.
Marshal Biggs: If they can dye the river green today, why can't they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year?
The Chicago River runs through the city and at one time was a major commercial river that flowed into Lake Michigan. Now, all the commercial activity has moved and the portion of the river in the city is used just for pleasure. Many, many decades ago, the city’s sewage dumped into the river. All this dirty water dumping into Lake Michigan was no good because that is where Chicago’s drinking water came from. So they created a lock and canal system that reversed the flow of the river. Still to this day, the river flows away from Lake Michigan. However, now that cities no longer dump sewage into rivers (still haven’t been able to confirm if this is the case with the Reedy), they are looking to once again return the river to its natural flow into Lake Michigan.
Now that we have the flow of the river out of the way, let’s talk about the great tour you can take down the river. The first step is to decide what vessel you would like to take. Here are the options you have:
We chose the tour offered by the Chicago Architecture Foundation aboard Chicago’s First Lady. This is an awesome tour and a must-do when in Chicago. The tour lasts an hour and half and you get background on more than 50 buildings. The tour is called the Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise, but should more appropriately be called the Chicago Architecture Tour of Buildings That Housed Iconic Companies That The Internet Shutdown and Now Are Office and Residential Spaces. Here are some examples:
Chicago Tribune: Internet killed the newspaper
Chicago Sun-Times: See above
Montgomery Ward: Mail-order catalogs were a great idea for people who did not have access to stores, but you can’t place a mail order from the toilet. Internet wins again.
Post-Office: If you have a mail-order catalog company in your city, you need a giant post office. If you have the Internet, you need neither.
Poole: [taking fax] Background just came in from Chicago.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: About time! What do we got?
Cosmo Renfro: Uh, "Richard David Kimble, vascular surgeon... " what the hell is that?
Poole: Somebody that makes more money than you.
List of people we saw who make more money than us:
Urban Meyer: Seen in the Drake Hotel Lobby. Although he makes a lot of money, the memories he gave me from the 31-0 Fiesta Bowl are priceless.
Robin Roberts: Seen entering the Four Seasons Hotel. She was in town covering the 50th anniversary of the Special Olympics.
Eric LaSalle: Seen walking down Michigan Avenue followed by a frantic Google search by my wife to figure out who she just saw. Eric was on ER and is now on the show Chicago PD. Can’t confirm if he and Richard Kimble ever worked together in the ER.
Rick Bayless: Seen eating in his restaurant, Frontera Grill. Bayless has a trunk full of award winning cookbooks, James Beard awards, and the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle. You can buy a jar of Rick’s salsa after you finish your bottle of wine at the new Harris Teeter on Augusta Road.
Dr. Anne Eastman: Hey, Do you have a particular interest in our patient's X-Rays?
Dr. Richard Kimble: What do you mean?
Dr. Anne Eastman: I saw you looking at that boy's chest film.
Dr. Richard Kimble: It's a hobby of mine.
Dr. Anne Eastman: It's a hobby, really? What are your other hobbies - brain surgery?
Pork is a hobby of mine. So is checking out cool food and beverage spots. Here are some of the spots we hit on the trip:
The Publican: Self-described as an homage to beer, pork and oysters. Located in the West Loop area of Chicago and has won several James Beard awards. The indoor seating mainly consists of large banquet tables. By large, I mean the center table can seat 100 people. Outdoor patio seating is also available, which is where we dined. The food comes out as it is ready (they don’t wait until everything is done and bring it all at once) and is served community-style, which is a fun and relaxing way to dine. The smoked pork shank I ate was the size of my head, and the experience at The Publican was not something that will leave my head anytime soon.
Green Street Smoked Meats: While we did not eat here, we did go by for a drink after The Publican because this is a favorite of my brother-in-law and I had to check out this cool spot. Also located in the West Loop, Green Street serves Texas Style BBQ in an amazing atmosphere. If you are a Vegetarian, don’t worry; there is still a reason for you to go. You can order a 40oz of Colt 45. I almost fell off my barstool when I saw the majestic 40 glistening as it was being carried to a table.
Frontera Grill: We have already talked about Bayless. This is his classic, casual Mexican spot. He has newer, more sophisticated spots, but this one started it all and so we had to pay homage. It did not disappoint. Located in the River North neighborhood.
Maple and Ash: The atmosphere at this Gold Coast neighborhood steakhouse makes Hall’s Chophouse in Greenville feel like Quincy’s. It was an awesome dining experience. First-class food and service while not taking what they do too seriously. For example, if you are not sure what you want, you can order the “I Don’t Give A F*@K” and the chef will provide you a four-course meal of his choice.
The Gage: Located on Michigan Avenue near The Bean (the large bean-shaped sculpture in Millenium Park). Go to the Bean and take a selfie, then head across the street for brunch/lunch here. Cool spot.
Cindy’s: Located next door to The Gage on the 13th floor above the Chicago Athletic Association is Cindy’s. Nice spot to enjoy a drink outdoors on the balcony overlooking Michigan Avenue and the park.
Signature Lounge: Located on the 96th floor of the John Hancock building. It takes approximately 50 seconds to reach once the elevator doors shut. Your ears will pop coming down. The drinks are pricey, but the views are amazing. We went once around sunset and then later to view all the city lights at night. When you are not being mesmerized by the views, you will be awestruck by the number of spiders that can survive outside on the windows. Not exactly ideal weather conditions. Ladies: for the best view, go to the bathroom. That is not a joke. The entire wall is a window. Men, your view is a tile wall.
Marshal Henry: I may be crazy but that train sounds like an el.
Cosmo Renfro: St Louis doesn't have an elevated train.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: How do you know it's an elevated train?
Marshal Stevens: I think he's right, I lived under an el for 20 years.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Then you can explain the difference in the sound of an elevated train as opposed to a train that's running along the ground. You must have ears like a eagle, play that back, I wanna hear the sound of an elevated train.
Don’t like baseball? I don’t care. Take the train up to Wrigley Field. In a world where most ballparks are large monstrosities located on major interstates, this neighborhood ballpark is a refreshing sports oasis. Don’t have a ticket to a game? No worries, there are thousands just like you who go to the area on gamedays just to watch the games in one of the thousand bars surrounding the stadium.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: I knew that was an elevated train.
Marshal Biggs: Oh yeah big dog, you're never wrong.
I don’t follow baseball much, but compared to my wife, I am Peter Gammons. So, of course, when I see Jon Lester is pitching I explain to her that the Cardinals will have a tough time scoring any runs today. Lester is a 5-time All-Star and this year is 12-2 with an ERA of 2.something. So naturally, Matt Carpenter, not the Greenville High QB legend and now Greenville root canal doctor, but Matt Carpenter the Cardinals first batter hits a home run. One of two he hit in the game, and when we left Chicago he had hit homeruns in six straight games. Like Lester, we could not make it through the fourth inning. Before you Greenville Little League people beat me with the giant cardboard head of your child for leaving the game early, we saw 3 home runs and 2 hours of baseball. The score was 12-1 Cardinals after 4 and they went on to win 18-5. I knew they would have trouble scoring.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Henry, Dr. Nichols lied to me. Go find him.
Before the game we decided to try and knock out another Chicago classic, the pizza. Aurelio’s is a pizza chain that started on the Southside of Chicago in 1959 and not until recently opened a northside location near Wrigley. They are actually known for their Chicago-style thin crust pizza. Before you have a heart attack, I know Chicago is known for deep dish. I have had deep dish pizza in Chicago before. This place had deep dish, but we were about to go to a baseball game and neither of us wanted a bowling ball sitting in our stomach. Matter of fact, I actually wasn’t that hungry at all, so when the waitress came to take our order, I asked her how big the “lil” pizza size was. She stared back at me like I just kicked her puppy and then responded, “That would be for a child.” Alrighty then, I’ll have the small. Clay also ordered a small. All was fine and dandy until the pizza came out and each small pizza was 10 slices. Great, we aren't that hungry and now we got 20 pieces of pizza to eat. I ate a couple slices, while Clay went into a panic about how much food was about to be wasted. No thank you waitress, we will not need a box, we are going to the baseball game a block away, like everyone else in this place. After Clay’s heartbeat returned to a more manageable 171 beats per minute, we headed to the game.
Dr. Richard Kimble: [after Kimble has just passed the stabbed bus prison guard who he saved] Tell the attending he's got a puncture in the epigastric area.
Paramedic: How the hell could he tell that by looking at his face?
We had a very similar moment to this quote when we were walking along the lake and approached the Navy Pier, a large tourist area.
Clay: Do you want to go and explore around the Pier?
Me: No, it’s no good.
Clay: How do you know?
Me: See that Bubba Gump Shrimp Company sign? Keep walking.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Your cousin still got his truck?
Cosmo Renfro: Uh huh.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Call him. Tell him we need it.
How I felt after walking through the Art Institute of Chicago when Clay asked me if I wanted to walk the 437 blocks back to the hotel.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Yeah... that's right Richard... I don't care. I'm not trying to solve a puzzle here...
Dr. Richard Kimble: Well, I am trying to solve a puzzle.
Cosmo Renfro: Five seconds to location.
Dr. Richard Kimble: And I just found a big piece!
As we discussed earlier, we went to the Signature Room for drinks twice while we were in town. The first time was on the first evening we were there before dinner. We were sitting at bar-type seating overlooking the city, when I saw two large flags flying in a roundabout off in the distance. So, of course I say, “Clay is that the Israeli Flag flying under the American flag?” Or course she looks at me like the idiot I am and says no, the Israeli flag only has one star. This flag we were looking at had four six-pointed stars. Maybe it’s the state flag...No. Maybe it’s the Special Olympics flag...No. Puzzle solved..it was the flag for the city of Chicago. You know, the one that is on every building, t-shirt, magnet and printed item in the city. Nothing gets by me.
Upon further review according to a Chicago Tribune article on the flag, I am not the only flag moron around. Some mistook it "for everything from the flag of Israel to that of one of the Scandinavian countries," according to an Aug. 12, 1958, Tribune article.
Click here for a full history on the flag.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Where those keys at?
Old Guard: I don't know.
Poole: Care to revise your statement, sir?
Old Guard: What?
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Do you want to change you bullshit story, sir?
[Poole shows guard a picture of Kimble]
Old Guard: He might have got out.
We walked, trained, Uber’d and cabbed the city. Most cab rides are met with complete silence in the front and Clay digging fingernails into the armrest in the back, as the cab driver sees how close he can come to killing you in a 12-block span. We had one cabbie who had the driving gloves cut off at the knuckle, but he was different; he liked to talk while he tried to kill you. He started the trip off by asking us where we were from, then asked if we had ever met anyone from Ethiopia. I gave him a long hard pause, to appear cultured, then said no. Of course he was from there. He then proceeded to tell us about the city and pointed things out along the ride. Maybe he heard the story about how I did not know what the Chicago flag was or we just may look dumb, but I knew he was full of it when he said, “And to the right is a great place to eat. It has organic food and is very good.” I look out the window and he is describing everyone’s favorite restaurant, Whole Foods.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: Give it up. It's time to stop running.
I was told to look like I was running. Apparently I instead heard, look like you have been hit by a poison dart.
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: I know it Richard. But it's over.
[pauses and sighs]
Deputy Marshal Samuel Gerard: You know I'm glad. I need the rest.
26.5 miles walked. 59,503 steps taken. Chicago was awesome.