- Taste the Chicago Mix (caramel popcorn and cheddar popcorn), not from tourists' favorite Garrett, but from Southside gem MotherButter's.
- Cobble together a donut tasting in the city's new artisanal donut mecca, River North, featuring FireCakes, Fritz Pastries (visiting the neighborhood for a pop-up shop), and (almost, if they hadn't sold out for the day!) Donut Vault.
I've been doing game stuff with the folks at Waxwing for a while now, but I'm particularly proud of this, a write-up that Waxwing's founder Andy and I did for a game that I wrote and executed early this year.
On the east side of Harold Washington Park, on the east side of Hyde Park, is a bridge across Lake Shore Drive. On the other side is the lake shore. Looking south, the view is Promontory Point, Hyde Park's favorite lakeshore hangout. The shoreline curves east into the lake, to the end of the point, where stands an old lighthouse.
Today, crossing the bridge over the highway and looking out, I noticed that the lake was an unusual color. At first, I thought it was the fog discoloring things. Downtown, usually a clear view north, was obscured in fog. But after I crossed the bridge and walked down to the shore, I saw the real reason: ice.
The whole shoreline, as far as I could see -- the rocky breakwaters, the cement promenades, the end of the point -- was encased in ice. Last night's ice storm, coupled with today's 50+ degree weather, had turned the shore of Lake Michigan into a dead ringer for the Antarctic coast.
From the stunning cerulean water to the miniature icebergs that were calving into the lake, to the sheen on the whitened, icy rocks, everything was there, a testament to what? A usual Chicago winter? The unpredictability of global climate change? I'm new here, so I couldn't tell, but it was beautiful, and of course, I didn't have my camera.
Francis Bacon is dead. I'm using his real name here. In at least one earlier post on this blog, I gave him a pseudonym, out of respect. Now, I'd like to use his real name, also out of respect.
Of course, Francis Bacon may not be his real name. It's just too good of a name to be true, but that's how we knew him in the bookstore.
The man himself was not too good to be true. He was a panhandler, a drunk, a rabble-rouser, and a purveyor of sexist opinions. More than once, I had to ask him to leave the bookstore where I worked. He would show up in the balcony and start hitting on the singers or heckling the politicians who frequented the store. Then I would sigh, walk upstairs, and ask him to leave.
I know what is said about speaking ill of the dead, but I need to make it clear that I'm not romanticizing the man.
When I last saw Francis Bacon, a few months before he died, he was starting in on Paradise Lost. He would never heckle the authors who came to give book talks, did I mention that? His heckling, especially when he was drunk, took in all and sundry, including the owner of the store, the mayor of Harrisburg, and even yours truly.
"Is that how you coil cables here?" he would say to me, as I packed up the microphones from an event, "at the theater I managed, you would've been fired on the first day."
But Francis had respect for the arts, so he never heckled even the most pitiful self-published self-help author, and that's why he was reading Paradise Lost. Of course, he didn't have his own copy. Instead, he would enter the store with his huge backpacker's bag, walk into the "famous authors" section, and grab Paradise Lost. He would go to his chair, set down the pack, and open the book.
He never bought a book, and he never stole a book, but he read through all of Don Quixote and most of Paradise Lost in the time that I knew him.
He marked his place in the book and put it right back on the shelf in alphabetical order in the "famous authors" section, even when he was being thrown out for disorderly conduct and heckling. He always came back to apologize after such an event.
All of this is to say that Francis Bacon led, as far as I can tell, a wild, open life. By no means perfect, but I'm glad to have known him and I'm sorry that he's gone. I hope he finished Paradise Lost.