It was a good year for music from Chicagoland. Some groups had already hit the big time, and some were on their way. Some scored many big hits, others hit the limelight just once. Here are a few top-selling songs from Chicago area bands in 1970. Which one is best?
The Five Stairsteps were a brother and sister act. It started out as 5 teenagers. The father, Clarence Burke, Sr. was a Chicago Police detective. He backed the group on bass guitar and co-wrote some of the songs. O-o-h Child was their biggest hit and made Rolling Stone’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.
Some day, yeah We’ll walk in the rays of a beautiful sun Some day When the world is much brighter
In 1966 the Ides of March formed in the near west Chicago suburb of Berwyn, Illinois. They had local success with the big AM radio stations playing a couple of their songs. In 1970 the band hit it big with “Vehicle,” one of our “One Hit Wonders,” 1970 Edition. Jim Peterik wrote the hit tune and went on a few years later to form Survivor where he had a few more hits. Now he is back with Ides of March and recently co-wrote the song “Everything Is Gonna Work Out Fine,” with Robert Lamm (Chicago) for Chicago, the band.
I’m your vehicle, baby I’ll take you anywhere you want to go I’m your vehicle, woman By now I’m sure you know
Chicago had a number of big hits in 1970. “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is,” was written and sung by Robert Lamm. It was the first song recorded for their first album, Chicago Transit Authority, in January of 1969. It was released as a single in 1970 after the success of “Make Me Smile” and “25 or 6 to 4” from their second album, Chicago II. It was Chicago’s third straight Top Ten single. It is one of my all-time favorites. I have seen the band do it live many times. There is nothing like seeing Chicago in Chicago.
Does anybody really know what time it is (I don’t) Does anybody really care (care about time) If so I can’t imagine why (no, no) We’ve all got time enough to cry
It’s the Golden Anniversary for these. Which is your favorite?
There are not too many bands from the 1960s still going strong. Those that are, live on the hits they made in the past. Chicago, the band, however, still finds time to write new songs and get new music out there. Early on in the pandemic Robert Lamm, a founding member of Chicago worked with Jim Peterik, author of our top “One Hit Wonders” of 1970, “Vehicle” by Ides of March, to create a new Chicago song. The two shared sound files back and forth across the internet and added in Chicago vocalist Neil Donell along the way.
After the tune took shape, they put in the magic touch of Chicago horns for the unique sound we know so well. This time the message is “Everything Is Gonna Work Out Fine.” With all that is going on in the country, they want you to know there are some positive signs too.
The song is on Spotify and iTunes and probably others by now. You will also find two versions on YouTube. Jim Peterek is singing on the Duet version.
The band has not sat idle during this time. They have done some live Zoom concerts with all of the band members playing from different locations. Modern technology is keeping live concerts alive. Lamm does not feel there will be concert tours this year, although the band is still showing on their website some performances later this year. Do not be surprised if they are rescheduled into next year.
Last year we received a new Chicago Christmas album that included some original tunes. The band would also consider that album as Chicago XXXVII. It was the first new album since Chicago “Now” came out on CD and various digital platforms.
In 2014 Chicago did something most older bands are reluctant to do. They put out a new studio album of original music entitled “Chicago NOW.” Legendary bands with staying power such as Chicago make their living off their faithful fans at live performances as well as sales of merchandise including older albums. They know that only a select handful of older bands can actually sell new singles and albums. The buying public for new music is mainly in the 13 to 34 age bracket and many of them tend to stream music rather than actually buy it. The main buyers of CDs are in the 45 and over category, but they are buying “catalog” music, or that is to say, classics from their favorite artists of the past.
Studio time can be expensive, both in terms of the studio cost and the lost concert performance time. A touring band like Chicago, who spends most of the year on the road, does not like the idea of stopping for an extended length of time. But Chicago is not ready to stop composing and recording, so how do they tour and record? The answer came with a new recording system they call “The Rig.” They have pushed the technology forward with a portable system so good, they record as they travel. Much of Chicago NOW was done in hotel rooms across the country and around the world.
Founding member and trumpet player, Lee Loughnane, took charge of the project to put out a new album without stopping the show, so to speak. Each composer of a song got to act as producer for his entry to the album and various band members helped with arrangements as well as select musicians from outside the group. Chicago not only recorded on the move, but they did not all have to be there at once. Members would record their parts at different times. Hank Linderman, a long time studio engineer, was the coordinating producer. A “collaboration portal” was set up and tracks were sent at all times from Chicago and contributing musicians. The result is a stunning contribution to the Chicago catalog and worthy of their best early efforts.
The title track, released as a download prior to the album début, has now worked its way into the current tour performances. Written by Greg Barnhill and Chicago band member Jason Scheff, the number was produced and arranged by Scheff. It is an energetic start to the album. Scheff also contributed “Love Lives On” and is co-composer to founding member Robert Lamm’s song, “Crazy Happy.”
While the horns section technically remains intact with founding members Lee Loughnane on trumpet and James Pankow on trombone, founding member and woodwind player Walt Parazaider appears in the videos but in fact, only played on three of the recordings. Now at age 75, a variety of health issues in recent years has limited Parazaider’s time on the road. Long time fill-in Ray Herrmann is also credited on three of the songs, though he was not listed as a band member at that time. While Herrmannn is now a frequent performer, the audience does not always realize it. From a distance he somewhat resembles Walt. Other sax players contributed to the album as well.
Guitar player Keith Howland sings the song he composed with Scheff and drummer Tris Imboden, “Nice Girl.” He also contributes, along with Imboden to Lamm’s “Free at Last.” As expected, Lamm leads the way on this album, being credited with lead vocals on six of the songs and background vocals on others.
Previously, Iwrote about “America” which was released the autumn before Chicago 36. It appears on the album as well. Lou Pardini drives home the song and the social commentary on lead vocal and keyboards. Also on percussion for the band is Walfredo Reyes, Jr., a more recent addition to the Chicago lineup, a talented nine guys at the time of Chicago XXXVI. There are currently 10 official band members.
Chicago has been around for a long time. No, I don’t mean the city, I mean the band. In 1967, five guys from DePaul University recruited a sixth from Roosevelt University and started a band known as The Big Thing. Soon they recruited a tenor, moved to California, and changed their name to Chicago Transit Authority. In 1968 they released a self-titled, double album that included some of their biggest hits and led them down the road to a Hall of Fame career. After the threat of legal action by the home town transit authority, the band shortened its name and the rest is pop history.
Their pop, rock, jazz-infused sound was groundbreaking. In an era of bands that included a guitar player, bass player, and drummer, Chicago’s music majors were letting a trumpet, a trombone, and a saxophone lead the way. It was a sound that led to more groups backed by horns.
As with many bands of the time period, they had their share of songs with social messages. A war protest song (It Better End Soon), a song following the moon-landing (Where Do We Go From Here?) and political commentary (Dialogue, Part I & II). They certainly did not rely on this type of song, but they were not afraid of them either.
As the decades rolled on they just may have relied a little more heavily on ballads and soft rock. That’s why it is interesting to find that Chicago came back with another album, Chicago Now, aka Chicago XXXVI, with a heavy reliance on the type of horn sounds of their early years and commentary on the American scene.
America, America is free! America! America is you and me!
America, the third track on Chicago Now, was actually available for download long before the album came out. With music and lyrics by founding member Lee Loughnane, it is not a throwback to another era, but a push forward for a band that has done something older bands are reluctant to do. That is, put out an album of new material and social commentary.
The dream was fading before our eyes Take some time to revive it. ‘We the people’ must start right now Don’t expect our leaders to show us how They don’t have a clue what to do If they knew how to stop this slide We’d have seen some signs by now To turn back the tide.
Lou Pardini provides keyboards and lead-vocals for this anthem. The beauty of the chorus and its tight harmony is in contrast to the attack of Pardini on the verses. At times he is almost at a growling pace as he delivers his lines and the song’s message.
We can’t keep havin’ you make our rules When you treat us common folk like fools It’s time to stand up for our rights Put congress in our political sights. Make them pass laws that help us all The Founding Fathers echo Will be heard in the hall By the people, for the people, everyone equal.
Right now we probably need songs of social importance just as we had decades ago. We feel our leaders have gone astray again, and a strong message needs to be sent. Sometimes we can send that message in music. Watch the video below for the lyrics and yes, that is the Chicago skyline at the opening. What did you expect?
When I was in Medellin, Colombia, someone had brought up the name of Pablo Escobar when we were out for food and drinks. Escobar was an infamous drug lord who had lived in the Andes mountains near Medellin. My friend commented unhappily that they have to keep telling people that Escobar was killed in the 1990s, meaning he does not live there anymore.
I told him I understand. We have to keep telling people that Al Capone no longer lives in Chicago. The crime boss died at his home in Florida in 1947. Sometimes the truth does not help you to shake your reputation.
At the present time you may hear that Chicago is the murder capital of the country, just like in the Capone days. The leader of our nation has said that crime here is “totally out of control.” He even tweeted recently that they might send in the feds if we do not solve the problem. While we are all dismayed at the uptick in violence in our city, one thing we know for certain: we are not in the top ten in murders per capita on anyone’s list. We are not in the top twenty either. Depending on who is doing the measuring and what size cities they go by, we may even miss the top 30.
I know it is hard to believe. Google it! You will find many news stories about Chicago, but you will also find plenty of articles about cities complaining they have a higher rate. You will find many web sites with rankings and wonder where we are. We’ll wait right here. Then come back and let’s talk about this.
The murder rate was up in 2016. We have not seen such rates since the 1990s. It was a big increase over 2015, but when you look at this on a per capita basis for large USA cities, you may ask, “What about Detroit, New Orleans, St. Louis? What about Baltimore and Dayton? What about Milwaukee? Can we send the Feds there, too? Can we send them to Atlanta and Houston and Camden?” In fact there are many cities with increases, so why does Chicago get so much more coverage than the others?
Perhaps it is because we are the third largest city in the country. In comparison to New York and Los Angeles, the crime numbers are much higher. It is easy to look at the three together, as many newspaper articles are fond of doing. From that vantage point, we look very bad.
Perhaps it is because we are the center of the country. We have the busiest airports. We are at the crossroads of the nation. Highways, railways and even ocean carriers move through here, making this their hub and their home. As a center of commerce, there is no overstating Chicago’s significance.
Perhaps it is because the 44th President of the United States hails from here and the current leader — number 45 — would like to embarrass him. Perhaps it is because Chicago voted overwhelmingly for his opponent and he is trying to make an example of us. Or not. This is likely a minor issue as we were already getting plenty of coverage. But why don’t we read tweets about any of the cities in the Top 10 of murder rate per capita?
No matter where we rank, the problem has grown and something needs to be done, but send in the Feds? Absolutely. No big city mayor is going to turn down help fighting crime. But there is a slight problem with the leader’s promise. “What does it even mean?” 9th Ward Ald. Anthony Bealeasked. “It is so vague.” What kind of help is he sending?
Representative from Chicago, Luis Gutierrez, (my Congressman, by the way) is not impressed with our leader “beating up” Chicago. “Chicago’s murder epidemic is more serious than a late night twitter threat from the new Tweeter-in-Chief,” he said. Other Chicago leaders from local aldermen to the Cardinal are unhappy with the treatment.
Instead of vague tweets, where is the partnership with the Justice Department, the FBI, DEA? If there are resources to send, our mayor is all for it. We are a big city with big city problems. There are certain types of help that would be meaningful and possibly effective. “Chicago, like other cities right now that are dealing with gun violence, wants the partnership with federal law enforcement entities in a more significant way than we’re having today,” Mayor Emanuel said.
In a breaking story this weekend, 20 more ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms) agents are being assigned to their office here. A request for this help is long-standing and the Mayor mentioned it to then president-elect 45 in a December 7th meeting (apparently fearless leader forgot about it). Federal gun prosecutions in this District fall way behind other big cities and resources were needed. If more agents have any effect at all, we know who will take credit.
It is tough to be in the spotlight, especially when the light is made brighter by a guy with a Twitter account. We are a world-class city with world-class attractions. We have fine airports and railroad stations. We have a lakefront that runs the length of the city with land that is open and free for all.
We have one of the largest fresh water lakes that supplies our drinking water and our summer playground. When I stand at the Planetarium out on the lake, I see what I think, in my biased viewpoint, is the greatest skyline in the country. If someone wants to send help, we are glad to have you. If someone wants to wage a Twitter war, can he pick on St. Louis and the Cardinals instead?
We’ve seen what a mess “federal” intervention has made in Oregon. Does ANYONE want that in their own city? I’m sure none of us do!
My father’s parents, my grandparents, were from rural Tennessee. They lived in Weakley County and their town was Martin. They were farmers but after World War II life there was hard and they moved to Chicago. When my grandfather retired from the Appleton Electric factory, they moved back to Tennessee and bought a house at the very edge of town. By that I mean there was a cornfield across the street.
I had been down there when I was little but don’t remember a lot about it. When I was a little older I would go to visit my retired grandparents, perhaps early to mid-1960s. I would walk with my grandfather into town. It was a mile to maybe a mile and a half to get to the start of Main Street. It could not have been more stereotypical small southern town America.
These walks were more to exercise my aging grandparent than anything else. We rarely stopped anywhere. On one trip as we walked down the street, we saw a couple of black guys coming from the other direction. As they got near us they stepped off the sidewalk to let us pass. I thought this was rather strange. On the next block, it happened again. “Grandpa, why do those guys get off the sidewalk when we come by?”
“Oh,” my grandfather said rather sadly, “it’s just what black folks do.” I was rather naive and I just didn’t get it. I thought something was wrong with us that these people did not want to share the sidewalk with us. It would take a few more years before I got it. I am not sure why, but that is a strong memory that stays with me.
When my grandparents lived in Chicago, I guess I spent as much time with them as anyone. My grandfather read the Bible every day and took the lessons to heart. He saw everyone as the same and never said a bad word about others, so I didn’t consider the idea of different races. He was the most decent man I have known in my life. He was a real Christian and believed in the Golden Rule. I am sure he would not know what to make of all the fake Christians today.
When I was older, a book was recommended to me entitled, “Black Like Me.” It is the true story of John Howard Griffin. In 1959 he got the help of a dermatologist to temporarily turn his skin brown using drugs and ultraviolet light. When he could pass as a black man in the south, he set out on his journey.
He solicited the help of a black shoeshine man he knew in New Orleans, who did not recognize him at first. He needed an introduction in the community and had to confide in someone. The journey is at times sad, at other times harrowing. When you have finished the book you have a better understanding of just how hard life could be for black people in the south prior to the Civil Rights Movement. Of course, you could never really know. Yes, this 1960 book is dated now, but it had a big impact at the time of release. The author had to move to Mexico for fear of his life.
There is a 1964 movie starring James Whitmore that dramatizes the book. It has been decades since I have seen it so I can not explain how much it sanitizes the story for the viewing public. I am sure they did not capture a lot of what he was saying. The movie can still be found online. I ran across a free version on YouTube.
You may have seen the social experiment where a teacher asks an assembly of white people if they would prefer to be treated like a black person. Without getting even one response, she repeats the question, but there are no takers. Then she explains the facts to them:
I have lived in the same house for 41 years. It is a diverse neighborhood of mostly white, but black and brown and yellow too. I have never been afraid to walk down the street before, but it has been a rough few days. People are on edge. Businesses are closed. The post office and the bank are closed. Stores are boarded up as merchants large and small fear for their businesses. I worry about going too far from the house that I might get beat up or killed in a neighborhood that has always been home.
It is no secret how I feel this has happened. I have seen “The Making of America” and it has not been great. If Donald J Trump, the master of divisiveness, is not the anti-Christ, he is doing a good impersonation. But I digress.
With the boarding up of stores from Lincoln Square to Albany Park to Lake View to downtown Chicago, and with the threats to the gay business to Boystown, it has terrified many folks I know. Since the city has successfully cut off downtown with the police and the National Guard, protests have moved to the neighborhoods. A friend of mine commented on Facebook how frightening it was to live like this. He mentioned how there were sirens through the night and people were killed over the weekend. Another friend replied:
“Scary isn’t it. That fear is what many black people feel all the time”
The day after being booed at a World Series game and listening to chants of “Lock Him Up,” the Tweeter-in-Chief came to another place he is not welcome. The Supreme Windbag came to the Windy City to hurl insults and hate at the locals. By the way, it is believed that the term “Windy City” came about as a description of past politicians rather than anything to do with the weather. If that belief is true, than he fit in with the liars of another era.
He likely felt it was OK to insult us. No dignitary met him at the airport. They would not want to be seen with him. None showed up to his hate filled speech later in the day. We have to hold ourselves to a higher standard, methinks.
The orange one probably took great delight insulting the city he was visiting. After all, President Obama lived here. Hillary Clinton is also from this area. Anything to do with those two politicians is likely to bring baseless insults from the one who never took the high road in his life.
We have been down this road before when number 45 promised to “Send In The Feds” to deal with the violent crime here. Although there is crime here, just like any major city, it is nothing like the resident of the White House claims it to be. Imagine, if you can, the following insult claimed by Trump while in Chicago:
Trump: “Afghanistan is a safe place, by comparison, that’s true.”
Obviously, it is not true. BBC research pegged the death toll in Afghanstan at 2307 in the month of August due to violent crime. That is about the number for the last 5 years combined in Chicago. Yes it is too high here, but it has come down in each of the last three years without help from any federal troops.
Trump: “Chicago has some of the toughest gun laws in the United States.”
False. The restrictions are actually less now that a decade ago. Attempts by the city to strenghten guns laws end up in court. Fights against the city are often led by the NRA.
Trump: “I’ve done more than any other president has done for the police”
OK, you be the judge.
The orange one claimed that Chicago was embarrassing to the nation due to the crime here. If that is true, there are many other cities providing the orange one with greater embarrassment. USA Today puts Chicago at number 21 on the list. Their statistics and methodology are well explained. Indianapolis is at 13.
As methodology changes for studies, sometimes the order of cities changes on the list. This may depend on the size of cities included, the type of crime classified as “violent,” and the source of the figures. Most use the FBI numbers in their rankings. World Atlas puts Chicago at 17, while Indianapolis climbs to number 10.
If we are just talking about murder rates per capita, then Chicago is 24th on the list, while two Indiana cities are higher. I mention the Indiana cities because it is the home state of the vice president. I don’t hear Agent Orange promising to send troops to help out Mike Pence.
If Chicago is not at the top of the violent crime list, as the supposed leader seems to suggest, than the real problem is not Chicago. It is gun violence in America. The president and the Republicans certainly do not want to tackle that issue. The NRA might stop contributing to their campaigns.
The vindictive one does not seem to want to do anything presidential. Instead he continues to try to divide Americans through insult and accusation. Our recently elected mayor was having none of it and responded:
The Superintendent of Police Eddie Johnson responded to the lies and insults against the city, the police force and the superintendent himself. He came to a press conference with the facts and conducted things in a professional manner, including thanking those police for doing their job protecting a man who was busy insulting them.
Chicago is a world-class city with big city, urban America problems. Its challenges are worse than some but better than many. Rather than taking vindictive potshots at one of America’s best, a leader should be lending a helping hand here and to the many other cities where help is needed. Perhaps it is the lack of support or the volume of protestors that has the orange one riled up. He received about 13 percent of the vote here in 2016. His performance here recently makes it unlikely he will do any better next time around.
A lot of people have a song or two that are special to them. It might be their prom theme song or other high school or college dance song. It might be their first dance from their wedding. It just might be the song that was playing when they met, or when they first realized they were in love.
The special song could be one remembered from a rock concert or play. It maybe the one that was on the radio when you were off on a road trip. You know the one! Everyone sang along at the top of their voices. When you meet now and hear that song, everyone sings it again, just like 20, 30, or even 40 years ago.
Here is my top ten list. They all hold special memories, but if I was to write this tomorrow, the order might change completely. Except number one would stay the same. That’s for sure. First I have some honorable mentions from recent years.
I have seen Maroon 5 in concert a number of times in recent years, and I really like Sunday Morning for a memory it evokes. I also love David Archuleta’s Touch My Hand for the thoughts it gives of being on stage but singing to just one person. Hunter Hayes touches a chord with the recent Invisible. I mentioned it previously here. I will also add One Republic’s Apologize, as in “it’s too late to apologize.”
10. Ferry Cross the Mersey, Gerry and the Pacemakers. This 1965 hit seemed to play constantly on a road trip to Galena, Illinois. You had to love top 40 radio in those days. A video of a 1965 performance that was posted in 2008 has over 7 million views.
9. Sister Golden Hair, America. This 1975 number one hit was a favorite of Chicago radio personality Larry Lujack. I heard it often on my America’s Greatest Hits cassette tape.
7. Save The Last Dance For Me, The Drifters. The 1960 hit came back around a number of times and by several artists. I particularly recall its use in the final episode of Season One of Queer As Folk.
6. Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys. I guess I could have picked several Beach Boys Songs for this spot, especially Heroes and Villains. They recall a particular era for me. Remarkably, Brian Wilson and his band are still out performing it.
5. Color My World, Chicago. Again off the “CTA” album. It was a popular theme for dances, proms, weddings. The late Terry Kath did lead vocals on the hit song. These days original member and trumpet player Lee Loughnane sings it. Below it is founding member Robert Lamm on vocals:
4. Horse With No Name, America. It is a favorite of my closest friend and it became our road trip song. This 1972 hit was written and sung by band member Dewey Bunnell.
3. That’s Life, Frank Sinatra, 1966. A friend who ran karaoke often asked me to sing it. If she had no one to start off her show, she would just announce that I would be starting and play this, even if I was not going to sing anything. I ended up singing it a lot:
2. Cherish, The Association. A friend asked me to write a lyric for his sister’s wedding song. Someone else asked me after the wedding how I thought to rhyme cherish with perish (as in, “their love will never perish”). Listen and discover:
1. Beginnings, Chicago. I saw them in concert at DePaul University when the first album was hot and the hits were being released one after another. This was the theme of many dances and certainly many weddings and proms. I can not adequately explain the memories that go with this song. From my seat on Chicago’s lakefront:
Add your favorites in the comments below. Maybe we will sing along with you.
To see any of the music videoes for the songs above, just click on the song title.
If you are in or near a big city like we are, you may have a number of outdoor stadiums where concerts are performed. We have concerts at Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Soldier Field (Bears). We have concerts in parks including the largest of the music Festivals, Lollapalooza (Grant Park). Outdoor music is a big thing here in the summer and you can catch every type of music from classical to Hip-Hop, jazz to blues, rock and roll to modern pop.
We also have indoor stadiums with concerts throughout the year. We have the Chicago Stadium (Bulls), UIC Pavillion (the University of Illinois at Chicago), Allstate Arena (AHL hockey), and others. You will not lack for big-name performers in large venues.
There are also many smaller venues, clubs, and bars, that feature musical acts. They may range from places where 100 is a crowd, up to locations of several hundred. Earlier in the year we caught David Archuleta in his Postcards in the Sky Tour at the City Winery. It is a spot that can have up to 300 for seating at small cocktail tables. The feeling is rather intimate compared to the large venues.
This spot would have been too large for Max Schneider’s The Intimate AF Tour. With Sirius XM as a sponsor, MAX set out to play 15 big cities and very small venues. Aside from the intimate venue stops, MAX picked up a few other notable gigs along the way.
If you are unfamiliar with MAX, we mentioned him before in our young artists’ edition of “Christmas Yet To Come.” At age 27, he may seem like an “overnight success” to some. He has a song on the radio charts and has been nominated as 2019 Best New Pop artist for the iHeartRadio Music Awards. He has also made some television and radio appearances promoting his latest single. It is all falling into place for the energetic performer.
Like many “breakout” performers, he has been at it for a while. He started performing at 3. He got an agent at age 14. He was an understudy on Broadway. He got a few TV acting jobs. One was in 25 episodes of the Nickelodeon show “How to Rock.” He won a part in the 2015 Brian Wilson biopic as the young Van Dyke Parks, an early writing partner of Wilson.
He did a lot of cover videos on YouTube. It is the way a lot of young performers have broken through in the business. His channel now has over 1.6 million subscribers. One of his earliest from 7 years ago is with a group of musicians who are playing their iPhone apps instead of instruments.
Fast forward to 2019 and the hard work at acting, dancing, and singing are paying off in a big way. By the time MAX hit Chicago on his tour of small bars and clubs, he had a performance lined up one afternoon at Lollapalooza. The 4-day event draws about 400,000 people. Most show up early for the all day music festival over eight stages and across 115 acres on Chicago’s lakefront. It’s Woodstock for the 21st Century. Some years we even accomodate with rain and mud. Fun fact: MAX is from Woodstock, New York.
The day after playing for tens of thousands in Grant Park, MAX played a small bar on the north side of Chicago. Schubas, once a Schlitz brewery, has a small room in the back of the bar that they claim will hold a MAXimum of 165. That’s without any table and chairs, just fans ready to rock.
A young rapper opened the show with a brief set. We will spare you the review. MAX followed and kicked things into high gear and left it there through most of the set. The small crowd was pressed up against the stage while a few of us older folks took to the bench that ran along one side wall. From there I could stand on the bench from time to time to get a few pictures over the top of the crowd.
If you have been to concerts lately, you will notice a lot of back lighting, usually in shades of blue. It makes it hard to get good pictures or video. Do you think they do that on purpose? This show saw a lot of light using yellow theater lighting gels. Yellow seems to be the theme for MAX at present.
Following a few successful days in the Windy City, MAX was off to a musical performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Along with some other TV and radio spots lately MAX’s overnight success seems complete. He made a stop in June on the Today show, performing Love Me Less. Will he be the headliner instead of the opener some day soon? That of course is hard to say as show business is fickle. One thing we know, having seen MAX here before, he has paid his dues and is bringing the talent.
A while back I saw this Daily Prompt question: “If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?” Normally I am not a Daily Prompt kind of guy. I am on the subscriber list, but usually by the time I read the email notice, it is a day or two later and I just delete. This one sounded rather intriguing, so I stashed it away for later use.
What would you pick? Would your home town be included? Would your current residence be a choice? Remember, in this scenario you can have any two cities. Shall it be a northern city for summer and a warmer climate for winter? I guess you can reverse that if you are in the Southern Hemisphere. If you are close enough to the Equator, you have no need to move away from the cold.
Maybe you need somewhere exotic as one of your stops. Fiji comes to my mind. There must be somewhere in the South Pacific that is warm and inviting. If you think we must be restricted to cities, then I will say that Nadi, Fiji has over 42,000 people so we will count it as a city rather than a village. If your home is in Nadi, I guess you can still spend plenty of time on a beach on the other side of the island.
How about a European capital? I have always found London inviting. Author Samuel Johnson once famously stated, “…when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” I guess that could be said of many of the great cities of the world. I found Rome, Paris and Brussels all to be interesting and vibrant cities. I have not been to other European capital cities. Perhaps our choice of two cities should include one unknown and one known.
If you have not been to the other side of the world from where you are, would you chose a city solely on the recommendation of others? Would you do an internet search of other places, or strictly stay with what you know?
When my father retired and moved from the cold of the Midwest to Florida, I began to understand the attraction of what they called “snowbirds” in the South. These were the people who kept their homes in the north, but spent the winters in the south. I loved Tampa, Clearwater, Sarasota and many of the Gulf cities. I could see doing exactly that. Perhaps your second city would be in another warm climate. Arizona? Southern California? Hawaii?
Actually, it did not take me long to settle on two spots. When I eliminated the fantasies and considered what is most important, I knew the answers. First would be Chicago. It is a world-class city with world-class attractions. It has major sports teams and fine stadiums, old and new. It has theater and concert venues. The major shows and Rock and Roll acts make it here when they tour. There is a lakefront that stretches the entire east side of the city, with open parkland, beaches and museums.
Al Capone does not live here. We are not the murder capital of the country, we are not even in the top 10. We do get a lot of publicity when there is crime. Like every big city, we have big city problems. I would say these problems are increased by the NRA suing the city over any attempt to keep guns away from gangs and criminals, but that is another column. We have friendly people who celebrate diversity.
You may not have heard of my other choice. I guess it is not really a city, but rather a small town of about 20,000 people. It is in the beautiful Alsace region of France. You will find small towns with ancient buildings sprinkled among the vineyards. In the distance on top of some of the hills, you will find castles left from centuries ago. If you say that this will not do, I must pick a larger “city,” I will move a short distance to the north and the lovely city of Strasbourg, capital of the European Union.
Why would I pick such completely different places on two different continents? Why would I choose places that have similar climates, where neither will escape the snow and cold? How could I spend half a year in a big city and half in a small town which holds none of the major attractions? The answer to me is quite simple.
The locale is no longer the most important consideration when deciding where to live. At one time it may have been important. When I am retired and tired of shoveling snow, maybe I would desire the warm weather locations. Now it is about family and friends. Aunts and cousins of various generations are here in Chicago. Friends made recently and friends since childhood are here too.
In France is one of my best friends. He spent a year here in 2009 and when he left we maintained our friendship through visits once or twice a year, here and in France. When I go to France we always see things I have not seen before, so it is great adventure. If he was somewhere else in France, then I would name that city instead. Spending time with family and close friends, no matter where they reside, makes their locations the places I want to be. For now my choices are Chicago, Illinois and Communauté de communes de Sélestat et environs. Where are your two homes to be?
Fire fascinates. Fire frightens. Fire feeds. Fire consumes.
We may all have a fascination for the dancing flames in a fireplace or a campfire. We may be able to sit and watch for hours and just relax. At Christmas time we have been fond of the Yule Log channel. No, it’s not the same, but it is safer and comes with holiday music. We cook with fire and we actually heat our home with it via the furnace in the basement. It is essential to modern-day life.
Then again, we fear fire for what it can do when it is out of control. I was horrified when the news came up on my phone of the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris. I had visited the famed cathedral twice and marveled at the architecture.
You may know that it was the architectural advancement of “flying buttresses” that allowed for the high and heavy vaulted ceiling to be supported. Without this feature, the roofed would have buckled and caved in. It took 182 years to build the cathedral (1136-1345) but it only took 15 hours for a fire to topple the steeple, destroy the roof and damage the upper walls and windows. It is reported that in another 30 minutes the building would have completely collapsed.
Here in Chicago, as in most big cities, we have had spectacular fires. In fact, from October 8th to 10th, 1871 most of Chicago burned to the ground. Three-hundred lives were lost. The burning embers were blown high and far and it was just too much for firefighters of that era. Stronger building codes followed as the city rebuilt and hoped the new buildings would be more resistant to fire.
Although we often say that only the Chicago Water Tower in the center of downtown and the pumping station across the street were all that survived the fire, it’s not quite true. The magnificent St. Michael’s Catholic Church, completed in 1869, was largely destroyed by fire, but the walls and the tower were left standing and the church was rebuilt.
In the 1990’s I attended a wedding there.
Certainly, there were many large fires after this, but the first of my memory was the fire at Our Lady of the Angels School on December 1, 1958.
The fire broke out while school was still in session. While most of the 1600 students were able to get out, some were cut off by smoke and flame. The older building was considered up to code because it was in compliance when it was built and was “grandfathered in.” Which is to say, it did not have fire alarms, a direct line to the fire department, fire escapes, or fire doors.
Some students jumped from the high second story windows. Ninety-two students and three nuns perished in the fire.
Following this, we all took our grade school fire drills seriously. We knew the way to the exits and where to meet outside. Fire inspectors were frequent school visitors and fire alarms were installed inside and out.
Teachers drilled us on keeping quiet and moving quickly. In case of fire, we would not be returning to our classrooms to pray if there was smoke or fire in our way.
In 1958 the city began to build McCormick Place, the large convention hall that would include the 5000-seat Arie Crown Theater. Sensitive to our history of spectacular fires, the concrete and steel building was touted as fire-proof and opened on Chicago’s lakefront in November 1960.
Around two in the morning, January 16, 1967, a fire broke out behind one of the booths of the National Housewares Manufacturers Show. At 2:30, the Fire Chief arrived and sounded the fifth alarm. All fire department personnel responded to the scene to try to save the building. The blaze was even fought by fire boats on the lake in the bitterly cold weather. By ten AM the roof had collapsed and the massive convention center was destroyed.
The theater was saved.
Church fires large and small are part of our history. Older buildings with a lot of aging wood are particularly vulnerable. Some are repaired after the fire and live on. Others are not so lucky.
There is always a greater concern when the building is a matter of civic pride or architectural significance. Such is the case with Holy Name Cathedral.
The first structure, a large brick building whose cornerstone indicated 1852, was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire. Its replacement was dedicated in 1875. The massive Gothic-style structure holds 1200 people and the interior is 70 feet high. The ceiling is largely wood and was meant to symbolize the “Tree of Life.”
In February 2009 a fire broke out in the roof and the attic of the building. According to reports, first responders entered the attic without helmets or oxygen tanks. Fast work saved the Cathedral. The repairs to the roof and ceiling were completed in six months. Without this response, the building could have suffered damage like Notre Dame. Or worse.
No matter the great care we take, devastating accidents happen. In the Notre Dame and Holy Name Cathedral fires, it is believed electrical problems may have been the cause. It is hard to say for sure at Notre Dame since much of the building remains unsafe to inspect. At Holy Name the cause may have been related to a snow and ice melting system which was installed on the roof.
A Chicago Fire Department spokesman stated after the Notre Dame fire that fire officials are inspecting large buildings every day to make sure that there is a building plan at the entrance, and exits are clearly marked.
In older buildings of historic interest, they want to know what unique challenges may exist and about which they need to know. Even “fireproof” buildings, like McCormick Place, can burn to the ground.
“Rebuilt, but never forgotten – the McCormick Place fire of 1967,” ExhibitCityNews.com January 1, 2014.
“Notre Dame Cathedral Fire: Investigators think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused Paris blaze, AP reports,” abc7chicago.com April 18, 2019.
“Holy Name survives fire thanks to firefighters,”abc7chicago.com/archive February 4, 2009.
Perhaps you have seen a baseball movie that depicts the hard life of the minor league player. Bull Durham (1988) may be the most entertaining. It shows the fictional life of players for the North Carolina team, the Durham Bulls. One Player (Kevin Costner) stays around the minors for many years, while one rookie (Tim Robbins) makes it to “the show.” Aside from the love story and the humorous moments, the movie shows that minor league baseball is not exactly glamorous for most.
Nevertheless, there are currently 256 minor league teams associated with major league teams, and a long list of independent teams in eight leagues that have no Major League Baseball (MLB) affiliation. This means there are a lot of players who will never make it to an MLB team (aka “the big leagues” or “the bigs.”) All these minor league teams represent a lot of major dreams, but why would someone play independent baseball hoping to make it to “the bigs.” Major league teams already have 5 or 6 minor league teams they follow. Better yet, why would someone start a new independent team in the face of so many independent team failures. How many area teams do we need?
With two major league teams in our hometown, (White Sox and Cubs), another major league team just 90 minutes north, the Milwaukee Brewers, and at least five area minor league teams nearby, you would think that building a new stadium and starting a new minor league team would be a crazy dream. But there are baseball lovers willing to try it.
The Village of Rosemont, located alongside Chicago and next to a part of O’Hare airport, has added to their list of ambitious projects by building a brand new 6300 seat stadium, Impact Field. The cost was 60 million US Dollars. They sold the naming rights for a dozen years and immediately have a team to play there, the Chicago Dogs, as in hot dogs.
Last winter when we were Christmas shopping at the nearby Fashion Outlet, we saw the location of a soon to open hot dog stand that was also promoting baseball and Chicago Dogs merchandise. We did not realize then that baseball was coming on the other side of Interstate 294. I took little notice as they were not yet open for hot dogs.
This year the Dogs joined a string of Midwest, Texas and Manitoba teams in the American Association. After 3 games in Sioux Falls and 3 in St. Paul, the Dogs opened Impact Field on May 25, 2018 with a game against the Kansas City T-Bones.
We saw the Dogs face off against the Texas AirHogs in June. Texas has entered a partnership with the Chinese National Team (Beijing Shougang Eagles) and much of their team is from China. In fact so much of the roster is from China, we heard the Chinese national anthem before the game as well as our own.
Before the game, I started in the right field corner and walked the entire concourse. Unlike most parks, you can circle this field and end up where you started. I found there was an adequate number of places to purchase your Chicago style dogs. These come from Vienna Beef, the popular home town hot dog maker. They have been here since 1893 and no hot dog stand is worth its celery salt if they don’t have Vienna dogs, but I digress.
Along my route I stopped to chat with one Chicago Dogs employee who noted that some of the players have spent time in “the bigs,” while others still hope to get there. Some want experience to become coaches or managers some day at the major league level. This employee mentioned a few famous examples, including Hall of Famer and former Cub, Ryne Sandberg.
One Chicago connection on the team is outfielder Shawon Dunston Jr., son of the former Chicago Cubs shortstop. Another is Kyle Gaedale who is related to baseball Hall of Famer, Bill Veeck. The colorful Veeck worked for the Cubs and planted the ivy in the outfield in 1937. Years later he was the owner of the Chicago White Sox.
The mascot is a giant Mustard bottle, seriously. Maybe you wish to have your picture taken with mustard. There was also a ketchup bottle roaming around but we do not put ketchup on our hot dogs…ever. In addition to luxury boxes, a must at any new stadium, the stadium has party areas, a Kids Zone, a restaurant and of course, a merchandise store.
There are promotions every day for the inaugural season. Fireworks on Thursdays and Saturdays. There’s a giveaway every Friday and kids can run the bases after the game. You might want to go on Mondays however and be early. The first 1500 fans get free mustard. What could be better?
The main drawback is actually the location. The busy district of Rosemont can barely accommodate more traffic. Without much land to use, the park has a three-level parking lot alongside. On a day with a small crowd, it was slow getting in the lot. I can not imagine how they do it when the park is full.
The story needs a Boston angle for Marilyn and Garry and we have one. The manager of the team is former Boston Red Sox player Butch Hobson. Butch was drafted by Boston in 1973 and made it to “the show” by 1975. He spent six years with the Red Sox, a year with the Angels and a year with the Yankees. Hobson made it back to Boston to manage the Red Sox from 1992-1994. He is still colorful and still likes to argue with umpires. We’ll see if he gets tossed out of more games than the Dogs win.
Whether you live in a large city or a small town, there are likely to be places of cultural interest, historic sites or local festivals nearby. If you are in Mitchell, South Dakota you can visit the Corn Palace. Stockbridge, Massachusetts has the renowned Norman Rockwell Museum. Hannibal, Missouri has the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum, along with the white fence that may (or may not) have been the inspiration for the scene of Tom Sawyer getting his friends to whitewash the fence.
In a big city like Chicago, there are many large cultural attractions. The Museum of Science and Industry is located in a building erected for the 1893 World’s Colombian Exhibition. The Art Institute on Michigan Avenue in downtown Chicago holds many iconic artworks. The “museum campus” on the lakefront contains the Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium and the Field Museum of Natural History, home to Sue, our T-Rex skeleton. Yeah, it’s big. Washington Park on the south side of the city holds the DuSable Museum named after the Haitian fur trader and supposed first permanent settler in the area now known as Chicago. I have been to them all.
It is impossible to get to all the festivals around town. We love a good festival and the summer is filled with them. Ethnicity, pride, food, drink, music are all reasons for festivals. In the third largest USA city, you can not know about all of the attractions, even if you have lived here all of your life. On a recent visit from a friend from out-of-state, we found a few things we have missed in the past.
Before arriving in town he suggested we go to the Chicago Beer Classic at Soldier Field. I had no idea we had a beer classic. With booths set up all around the playing field where the Chicago Bears attempt football, one could go around and get 2-ounce samples from 150 craft beers in a special 2-ounce souvenir glass. These were mostly out of area beers with only a few local brews known to us.
Armed with a booklet of 48 tickets we set off for our samples. I used 15 tickets but since some booths did not bother to collect them, I probably got about 20 samples, not a lot for 3 hours. We interrupted our beer trek to take the behind the scenes tour of Soldier Field. We saw locker rooms and some of the features of the recently renovated stadium. Little more than the original columns exist today.
Our week of local interests included the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum, founded in 1857. The original museum collection was destroyed in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Today it is located in a Lincoln Park building erected in 1999, containing exhibits of nature unique to the Midwest.
One of the most popular features of the museum is the Butterfly Haven. You have to be careful opening the doors to this large atrium style room so that the butterflies and moths do not fly away. We were lucky enough to be there when they released new butterflies and moths to the room, which is a daily occurrence due to their short lifespan. In fact, some of the large moths they release only last about 5 hours. If you sit still, some are likely to land on you.
The Chicago History Museum was also on our hometown tour. This was founded as the Chicago Historical Society in 1856 and like the Nature Museum, it lost its collection in the Great Chicago Fire. The current structure in Lincoln Park was built in 1932 and has been expanded twice.
We found interesting displays including those on Abe Lincoln, the development and recording of Blues in Chicago, and the struggles of diversity throughout our history. I stepped onto an old elevated train car and sat at a school desk and saw that children of color did not always get the same education as others. I saw a mocked up recording studio for Chicago Blues musicians. If you were bold enough, you could walk into a little club room and sing the blues for us, karaoke style.
By the way, I missed the Corn Palace in South Dakota. When I was eight years old, we were on one of those family road trips to see Mount Rushmore. On the way back we went through Mitchell. When we got there I was sleeping in the back seat of the car, so they left me there and my parents and older brother went to check out the palace. Someone should have called Child and Family Services on these people. I think I was scarred for life by missing this attraction.
Many years later I took a friend from France to Hannibal, Missouri. One of the few things he knew about the country was from reading Tom Sawyer. I can not imagine how that translated. I am actually in the picture at the top, but my friend was clearly more interested in capturing Tom Sawyer’s fence than getting me in the picture.
If I ever get to Stockbridge, I am sure I will check out the Norman Rockwell Museum. I have always been fascinated by the detail of his work. I remember seeing them often on the cover of the Saturday Evening Post.
What are your favorite local spots of interests? What do you have left to explore on your stay-at-home vacation? What could possibly be close to home that you do not even know about…yet?
Making My Home A Haven is important to me. Sharing homemaking skills. Recipes and food. Bible Studies. This is a treasure chest of goodies. So take a seat. Have a glass of tea and enjoy. You will learn all about who I am.