September 2, 2005

Back To Posting

And I finally get time to post something, yay!

Chicago is an awesome town. I arrived yesterday evening via the Friendly Skies folks, who served me the first meal I’ve ever had on a plane that I could say was truly delicious: Smoked salmon with prosciutto and shiitake ’shrooms(I told that to one of the flight attendants, who laughed and said, "That’s because we didn’t have to cook it").

I decided to go "whole hog" this time out and am ensconced in a suite at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place with a great view of the Chicago skyline from the living room, two full baths, two big TVs, speaker phones all over the place and, most important, high speed internet access. I can also use the Wi-Fi access in a comfortable sitting room off the lobby. When I checked in, I saw all sorts of Cleveland Browns running around the hotel and learned that they were here to play a pre-season game with the Bears. They did, and won 10-0. Boo.

The people here are quick and full of character, but then this is the 2nd City, New York’s inland cousin and as such home of the second best pizza in America. OOOOOPS! Around here, them kin be fightin’ words, almost as bad as making derogatory remarks about the Cubs.

I spent yesterday evening with several friends I hadn’t seen in a long time and there was much imbibing, then I had a casual business meeting with a prospective partner in a small enterprise we’re contemplating. Then there was more libation.

I had intended to post after breakfast today, but two significant factors got in the way:

1. The night became morning before I was alone and I finally hit the rack, so by the time I crawled feebly out of bed it was well past the hour Room Service here serves breakfast, and 

2. As I was performing my first-thing-in-the(I can’t say morning in this case, so)-day’s-period-of-consciousness of checking my email(which includes comments made here at my blog) I was looking at the clock on my computer, forgetting(it had been some night) that it was still set on west coast time, and when I glanced at the face of my faithful Tag, I realized it was two hours later than I’d thought. "Seth," I grumbled, "you be’s a moe-ron."

So I had to kind of scramble to shower, shave and get out to meet still another amigo for a cold one, then get to my bank here to withdraw some cash– It’s good to carry some cash when you travel, it comes in handy in any number of ways– then off to the Nike store as I’d neglected to pack my sneakers before I left S.F. For those of you who have never been to Chicago, Michigan Avenue, in the Loop, can be a financial death trap: It’s too damn easy to spend too much money without even making any effort to do so, there’s something in the atmosphere of the place, the facades and the presentation of the window displays, that can instantly slam even the most miserly curmudgeon into shopping mode. Having walked past and viewed the window at Johnston & Murphy, after I bought a pair of Nikes I went back and bought a pair of $200.00 loafers. $200.00, cripes! Now I suppose I’ll need to go out and buy a picture frame for them, or something. I feel like "The son of Imelda Marcos."

Back to the hotel briefly, to answer emails and my two blog comments, then out to dinner with a trio of friends at the Tavern On Rush. I had blackened Cajun shrimp and a magnificent filet mignon with crab meat, asparagus and hollandaise sauce, an interesting deviation from my usual beef-and-potato simplicity, easily rating 5 yum-stars. And more libations were enjoyed by all. I would highly recommend Tavern On Rush as not only a superb place to eat and drink, but also as part of a good Chicago experience.

It’s a good thing that most of the people I know in DC are moderate, family types, or by the end of next week I’d be dead from cirrhosis.

The biggest topic of conversation by far, among all my friends here, has been the destructive assault on New Orleans by Katrina the Bitch. Having lived there in years past, I know a lot of people in New Orleans and wonder how they’re making out, as it’s impossible to contact any of them. Imagine the scene, whole neighborhoods ripped apart, floods dominating the city, looters, including a few of "Nawlins’ finest," rampaging in an orgy of opportunistic assholicism, families and individuals who just last week were going about their ordinary lives now homeless, scared and tragic like refugees from a wartorn country. It breaks my heart to think of friends I can’t even contact being in the midst of such a nightmare.

Powerful thunderstorms are an almost daily occurrence during the summer in New Orleans, and one year when I was there, such a storm caused heavy flooding, more than three feet deep, which destroyed the ground floors of tens of thousands of houses and carried away moveable objects such as garbage cans, bicycles and so forth, but that wasn’t even a significant fraction of that which has been unleashed by Katrina.

My prayers go out to the people of New Orleans.


Ongoing rescue operations, reparation of the immense damage and the rebuilding of the Crescent City are going to present an obscenely high cost in terms of money, manpower, food, shelter, psychological counselling, building materials and sanitary venues.

That leads to an interesting question: After the tsunami that obliterated a large chunk of Asia, while the U.S. was contributing more to relief efforts than any other country, Koffi & Kompany were berating us for not giving enough. 

Now that parts of Mississippi and Louisiana are suffering from a similar disaster, will those same Kountries offer their help? Or will this be "The Americans’ problem" as usual?


Tomorrow will probably be another late riser for me, as I have a friend coming over for drinks(the bar in my suite is down to one ridiculously large bottle of Johnny Walker Black and most of another, equally ridiculously large bottle of Sauza Hornitos tequila, all sorts of mixers, lime slices and assorted Sam Adams and Heinekens) when he gets off work at 11:00, but I intend to spend a good part of tomorrow and most of Saturday taking in some of the more wholesome samplings of Chicago.

by @ 1:03 am. Filed under Travelling
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