We had so many amazing experiences in Chicago these past few days, but I’m going to be straight up with you: Spending two hours at the Chicago Music Exchange was the FREAKIN’ BEST! Endless rows of guitars hanging on the walls floor to ceiling, in multiple rooms, many of them vintage instruments worth more than my car, a few more than my house. “Make yourself at home and let me know if you need us to get something down for you,” says Joel, one of the shop’s affable staffers and a prominent face on its popular YouTube channel. I grab a red ES-335 and blue Jazzmaster, head to one of the soundproof booths in the center of the shop and plug in. My ears are still ringing.
A jaded grandpa-looking guy seated next to me in section 515, wearing a Cubs cap and jersey and jotting game stats on Cubs stationery, seems annoyed. As usual I have some questions and he looks like just the right person to ask. After 90 minutes without a run for either team, I lean over and take a chance with, “Are most games this slow going?” It pains him to acknowledge me. “The Cubs are the highest scoring team in the National League. You'd think they'd be doing better tonight but they’re not.” He turns away. End of conversation. And then we start seeing some action. Too bad for the jam-packed crowd at Wrigley Field that the San Diego Padres are the ones making it happen, ultimately finishing off the home team 6-1 on this absolutely perfect summer evening.
The Trump International Hotel & Tower on the Chicago River is a sleek, soaring architectural marvel of 98 stories, bold and brash just like its namesake. The “Trump” sign on the building’s exterior is enormous, as you might imagine. “Seems like there’d be a zoning restriction that wouldn’t allow letters that big,” I ponder aloud. “Or letters in that order,” a family friend adds.
I share an elevator first thing in the morning with three peppy young women, all of them a bit too bright eyed for such an early hour. All I want is coffee. Like, immediately. Then I notice one of the women is wearing a blue T-shirt adorned with the outline of the Magic Kingdom castle and the word “Home” in white letters. I say, “I see your shirt. Do you live in Florida?” “Oh no, I’m just obsessed with Disney.” There’s no outrunning the Mouse, even at daybreak in a Hampton Inn on West Illinois Street.