Sunday, April 10, 2011

Chicago, You're My Kind Of Town. (I Get Paid For Doing This)

Last week Tuesday, I had to travel to Chicago to argue a case before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. It's one of my favorite things to do, despite the seeming ridiculousness of traveling nearly four hours, one way, to speak for 10 minutes in front of three federal appellate judges... (but in this case it was a little more cost-effective because I got 12 minutes.)

And, since I had my camera with me, I did more than just sneak into the courtroom and take pictures before the session began; I also took pictures of a bunch of other stuff, and these are those pictures.

(Also, it wasn't really sneaking in; the doors were open and the courtroom was empty. I don't know if pictures are allowed or not, though, and it sounded more exciting to say sneaking.)

The last time I had to go to Chicago for a case like this, Sweetie came with me, we got stuck in traffic, and I was late for court -- a stressful experience that still ranks up there on the worst days of our married life. So this time, I allowed plenty of extra time. I had to be there by 9:30, so I left at 4:15 a.m., and that meant that about one-half my drive was done in the dark.

But it also meant that as I drove through the wilderness of Illinois, I got to see what I'm 100% sure was Venus, low on the horizon, which made me excited that I was using my college education (I took Astronomy my senior year) and I managed to take a picture of it while driving along, something that's probably not against the law:

You can't really see Venus. I took four pictures, and that was the best one. Early morning planetary photography probably requires more than a smart phone and a Saturn Vue.

I hit the outskirts of Chicago about 6:50 a.m. I consider it the "outskirts" when I can see the Sears Tower, which I know isn't the Sears Tower anymore but I don't know what it is called, and it was the Sears Tower for most of my life, so I just call it that because if I call it what it's really named I have to go through this conversation:

Me: I saw the [whatever it's called now] tower.

Other Person Who Is Hanging On My Every Word: The what now?

Me: You know... the Sears Tower.

OPWIHOMEW: Oh. Why didn't you say so?

This was my first view of the Sears Tower:

From that point until I got to the next picture, traffic was so bad it took forty-five minutes to get downtown, where I got off at Jackson street:

And that was only about 1/10 as bad as the traffic that practically wrecked my marriage to Sweetie that time, so I was justified in leaving early.

I parked in the parking lot nearest to the building I actually had to go to, which turned out to be both good and bad. It was bad because I paid $33 to park there, and pretty much every other parking lot in the city had a deal that would have cost me only $14 to park there. Even though I get reimbursed for it (because I'm a big shot) I didn't want to spend the money.

On the other hand, the building I parked in had a cool statue in the lobby, and I took this even cooler picture of that statue just outside the building, through the window:

Then I had to stretch my legs a little and kill some time before checking in -- don't worry, I went off the clock for this, as walking around isn't billable -- and I noticed, at one point, this interesting-looking sign in a window, just about the also-interesting sign for a doughnut shop:

You'll never guess what that sign is advertising, so I'll just tell you: A divorce law firm:

It says "Take Control. Get Divorced." And I wasn't able to figure out what the significance of the people pictured is. Has divorce become the newest fitness craze? Because that's a pretty old joke:

Man 1: I lost two hundred pounds of ugly fat recently?

Man 2: How'd you do that?

Man 1: I got divorced!

(This joke brought to you by 1950s-era comedians.)

Chicago is full of sculptures, including this one, which Sweetie pronounced ugly, without even bothering to consider the sculptor's feelings:

It kind of is ugly, though. If truth is beauty and beauty truth, then that sculpture is one big lie.

I walked past the Chicago Board Of Trade, forever known to people my age as "one of the places Ferris Bueller went on his day off":

And a block later I walked past this bank, which I saw the name of and thought "I've never heard of that bank," and immediately thought "Well, I guess the name is right."

When I turned the corner to head towards the courthouse, I saw not only a reflection of a building in a building, which is one of my favorite sights anywhere, but also a large sculpture at the end of the street that I resolved to walk to:

Only to first get distracted by some fountains:

And then by some statuary on the side of the County building:

And then by what I decided was the best building in Chicago, because it looked like a spaceship had set down in the middle of the city:

The Spaceship Building got me off course, and I veered over to it, stopping to focus in on the sculpture in front:

Before going inside and finding out it was even better inside than out:

Sadly, they would not let you go up to the higher levels without showing an ID and a reason to go there. Thanks a lot, terrorists.

Even the floor was great:

I went back outside and stood inside that front sculpture.

Because I could.

Then I headed back to the large sculpture, pausing to take a shot of the sign for the Chicago Theater, because I once saw David Letterman's show filmed there, and Penn & Teller did the "Water Tank Trick," which I loved, and which is actually online:

So you should watch this:

It isn't a picture I took, but it's amazing anyway.

I had to cut through the theater district, where I saw a Puppet Theater On A Bike:

And then finally reached the sculpture, which was this:

And then it was on to arguing the case, and afterwards, stopping to pick up some t-shirts for Sweetie and the Babies!, during which I walked down State Street and liked the planters:


Rogue Mutt said...

Chicago's always fun to visit, though I don't think I'd want to live there.

anna. said...

I spent some time in Chicago this weekend too -- LOVE IT. Maybe not the traffic, but it's nice to look at.