So, first off, I’m pretty inconsistent with posting. We’ve established this. I shall apologize for it no longer.
Second: I adore Chicago. This sentiment was reaffirmed recently when I took an extended weekend trip there. Oh, Chicago!
I arrived in the Windy City (which I have found to be significantly less windy than Boston – yes, I know, its the politicians who are windy, not the actual city) Wednesday evening, via my much-beloved JetBlue airlines (the exact cause of my love for this airline is currently unknown. One would think that, since it’s a communist airline without a first class section, I wouldn’t like it). Legend Doug Deering chauffered me, with a quick pit stop at his family’s humble abode, to Food Destination #1 of the weekend: Portillo’s (the name of which I could not nail down the first ten times I heard it). Here, with little brother Jonathan Deering in tow, we met up with my dear friends Kathleen Best, Kristin Heinze, and the Great Peter Weicher, fresh off the boat from Italy. I enjoyed both their company and the scrumptious Maxwell’s Street Polish sausage (specifically, sausage with mustard and carmelized onions) & chocolate cake shake. Yum! Upon finishing the meal, the six of us traveled to the Deering household to enjoy a fine muggy evening on the back porch, complete with tiki torches and about a thousand mosquito bites. The night was capped off by a visit to the Deering family’s home parish, St. Isaac Jogues, which features perpetual adoration. Upon making a holy hour there, and exhausted from the travel of the day, I slept peacefully (although not for a very long time) that night at the Deering home.
The following day, Doug and I traveled on the Metra (why it is called the MetrA I still do not fully understand, though the argument that the name is a combination of “metro” and “train” is feasible) dowtown. I had the honour to gaze upon the Other St. Ignatius High School shortly before rolling into Union Station. From Union, I made a pit stop at Old St. Pat’s church on the near West Side. Looks like it was once a very pretty church, now being marginally pretty and actually sort of weird on the inside. But hey, our Lord was there, so I can’t really complain.
After the visit, I hopped a very humid South Shore line train to the University of Notre Dame (Lame, Shame, etc., what have you) to visit my friends Veronica Roberts, Brett Bertuccio, John Brown SJ, and of course, the Honourable James P. Cahill. My visit began with Holy Mass at the stunningly pretty Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Following Mass, the aforementioned friends and I, along with some of Veronica’s roommates and friends from the ND Ph.D. program enjoyed a fine dinner of beef covered in mole (pronounced mo-lay) sauce and other Mexican tidbits, finished off with some absolutely delicious peach pie and vanilla ice cream. The night continued with a jam session between John and Veronica and ended up at the cozy confines of Fiddler’s Hearth in “downtown South Bend” (wooooo). My night spent on Veronica’s landlord’s quite comfortable couch was cool (hooray for air conditioning) and very, very, very restful.
After Holy Mass the next morning, I said farethewell to Veronica and my other Notre Dame pals and headed back to the city. Friday afternoon found me taking the Blue Line out to Damen to meet up with my young padawan Nate Sanders. I had the opportunity to tour the Midtown Opus Dei center, where he is working this summer. My high expectations for the place were met and, dare I say, exceeded. The barracks where many of the advisors (the young men working there over the summer) stay were nicely air conditioned and very, very sparse, simple and neat, as a room should be. The church attached to the center was absolutely gigantic and quite beautiful, generally Baroque in style. I believe the church is the biggest in Chicago. Perhaps even more beautiful, maybe because of its simplicity, was the oratory in located in the center proper. I wish I had taken a picture of this simple yet gorgeous chapel.
After the tour of the center, Nate and I trekked back downtown to meet up with HIs Honour and Alexandra Valdez in order to obtain and consume some delicious deep-dish Chicago pizza. However, since we did not all convene until around 7 o clock, the wait at each pizza place was already an hour and a half long, so we settled for a fine Italian eatery by the name of … well, actually, I can’t remember the name at the moment. However, the patty melt I ate at this establishment was equally delicious – well, almost – as the deep dish pizza I had in the past.
While the four of us supposed, the Great Peter Weicher joined us. Upon finishing dinner, the five of us drove back to the Bucktown/Wicker Park area. Minus Nate, the group ambled into the Subterranean club to witness Halleljuah the Hills and the
greatest band in the world, Titus Andronicus, tear it up onstage. Seeing these two excellent bands on their own would be good enough, but the fact that members from Hallelujah the Hills joined Titus onstage to provide extra keyboards, cello, and trumpet to round out the sound of many-layered Titus tracks made the show all the better. I will likely do a quick write-up of the show on its own, and so will let that article speak for the massive amounts of fun had at the show.
After another quick night of sleep, I joined Nate and the other advisors at Midtown for Mass in the aforementioned beautiful and simple little chapel. Before Mass, one of the advisors led the group in a half-hour meditation which consisted of short readings from the writings of St. Josemaria Escriva, founder of Opus Dei, followed by a few minutes of silence. The celebration of Mass met my expectations of an Opus Dei priest – saying the black, doing the red, with tender devotion and deep understanding. By the way, this tenderness and understanding carries over quite well into the everyday actions of both the priest and all the men at Midtown, as evidenced at breakfast following Mass. Real good bunch of guys.
Upon departing from the gang at Midtown, who were headed off to Wisconsin for a short weekend trip, I met up with James and Alex at the Cahill home. We quickly turned around to attend the Cubs game, sitting in the Cahill season ticket seats at the top of the stadium, where a nice breeze kept us cool the whole time. The Cubs played in classic fashion, winning until the top of the
ninth inning (scoring their run on an excellent suicide squeeze bunt play), and then coughing up the lead in the top of the ninth. The closer walked no less than five men, and the catcher made what should have been an error right at home plate which would have gotten the final out before any runs scored. Classic. We all enjoyed it.
The game ending in the late afternoon, Alex, James and I had an hour or so to burn before actually getting a table at one of the deep dish pizza places for dinner. We had the luck of getting to catch a glimpse of the stunningly beautiful chapel at James’ old high school turned archdiocesan center, Quigley. What a blessing it must have been to pray in this chapel all throughout high school! One would think more of the young men going there would have kept on into college seminary being in such a beautiful place all the time…
The three of us snagged a table at Due around 5, just in time for the Deering brothers and David Raminski to join us for a delicious deep dish pizza meal. Yes, it is much different and much better than the Uno chain restaurants in other cities. Yes, it has layers. I shall say no more.
After a little nagging on my part, the six traveled to Raminski’s downtown condo to digest our food. As you know, digestion can cause one to become a litte drowsy, since extra blood is used to digest the food. The result…
Nap having been completed, Alex, James and I headed to a small club called B.L.U.E.S. on the northern side of the city to catch some “authentic” Chicago blues, provided by Eddie Shaw and his band. I wouldn’t say that a three-necked guitar makes me feel very nostalgic or like I’m living in the old times, but I suppose something historically rooted doesn’t have to be old to feel authentic. That, or maybe I’m being superficial in focusing on the guitar rather than on the actual music. Yeah, that’s probably it.
Ok, quick interjection here – if you can’t tell, I’m getting tired of writing endlessly about this trip. As much fun as it was… I’ve been writing this baby for a good deal of time now, and so for now, I’m going to rush it to a finish.
On second thought, I’m going to do two posts. This is officially now “Chicago Part I”. Part II forthcoming.