I can’t believe that I am here sitting in San Francisco, which at the moment is living up to it’s nickname, ‘Fog City’ and blogging about Chicago, a city that I’ve never visited, that’s 1863 miles (2998 km) away from here. One of my honorary brothers went to school (that would be university to you Brits) out there, but unfortunately I never managed to go and visit him, though I was very tempted by the talk of the vibrancy of the city . . . the amazing food . . . and his (my brother’s) exciting stories about the antics of his pet python, Julio Iglesias . . . but that’s another story.

In the past few months, arrows, in the form of things I’ve been seeing, reading and listening to, (and eating, if you count the killer Chicago-style deep dish pizza that my brother insisted we eat when he was here on a visit, I prefer not to count it – deep dish pizzas are not my thing) have pointed to the Windy City. Co-incidence? I think not! Anyway, I felt the need to share!

ART – On a recent trip to London, I rediscovered the artist Anish Kapoor. I have seen pieces by this talented and compelling artist over time, but there was an entire exhibition of his work at The Royal Academy of Art in London. I was lucky enough to visit the exhibit three times. And I met the artist himself when I went to a book-signing by him where I bought a copy of his wonderful monograph, ANISH KAPOOR, published by Phaidon, which I highly recommend! But I digress . . . In preparation to going to the exhibit, I watched  this BBC documentary about the artist, where I caught a glimpse of the wonderful Cloud Gate, otherwise known as The Bean, which is located in the Millenium Park in Chicago, which I now feel I MUST go and see!

BOOK – I just finished reading the hugely compelling Devil in the White City by Erik Larson. A really interesting book that juxtaposes the experience of Chicago World Fair architect, Daniel Burnham, and one of Chicago’s first serial killers, H.H.Holmes in the lead up to and during the Chicago World Fair of 1893. It’s not a book I would otherwise have picked up, but I went on a walking tour called Rising Steel: Two Centuries of San Francisco Architecture, in downtown San Francisco a couple of months ago and Daniel Burnham’s name cropped up a couple of times. I then overheard a conversation between two people, where one was talking about the book, which made me want to read it. Minutes later I ordered it from amazon.com and shortly after that I had my nose buried in it. I know that not much remains of the World Fair or of the building where Holmes killed many of his victims, but I would like to see and soak up the location of all the action in the book!

MUSIC – I have recently ‘discovered’ Sufjan Stevens‘ music. The one song that keeps haunting me is ‘Come on! Feel the Illinoise! Part I: The World’s Columbian Exposition Part II: Carl Sandburg Visits Me In A Dream‘ from his album titled Illinoise. I love the lyrics and the tune – ‘Chicago, in fashion, the soft drinks, expansion. Oh Columbia! From Paris, incentive, like Cream of Wheat invented, The Ferris Wheel!’
I think Stevens is an amazingly talented musician and I am beginning to love his music. He is allegedly going to release an album on each of the 50 states of the USA. So far he has covered Illinois and his home state of Michigan!

Photo credit: Ian Britton from freefoto.com

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