Saturday, October 24, 2015

Chicago and Milwaukee: October 2015

Jerry had to visit customers in Milwaukee and Chicago. By coincidence, at the same time of his meetings, there was an international film festival going on in Chicago. So, we decided to combine his work with film coupled with local culture and great food.

Local Pub Near Chicago Hotel

Great Flat Bread Pizza and The Best Mussels
Below is the reception area of a PMI customer. The fireplace is "crackling" during wintertime.

We wanted to get a quick bite before leaving Milwaukee. Another meeting was planned (two hour drive) outside the Chicago area. The nearest place was "Big Daddy's" - a picturesque, hole-in-the wall, barbecue pub in Milwaukee's inner city. Big Daddy, a short, stocky Afro-American actually exists - he was sitting at the bar - wearing weathered clothes, suspenders and he was keeping an eye on things.

The first few days was on the chilly side - mornings started out in the 30's. By mid-day, some of the temps were actually in the 70's. Walking down Michigan Ave is one of our favorite things to do - there is an "electricity' in the air - a unique and special ambiance unlike most world cities. Also, Fall had arrived.

We noticed that there were more beggars on the streets - one person was "stationed' at each corner. After a while, we noticed that all of the beggars rotated from one corner to another about every 15 minutes. Perhaps, there is some sort of city ordinance that disallows begging in one spot for a lengthy period of time.

Our Chicago boutique  hotel (The James) was not the Four Seasons. However, it was above average as a hotel property and it had a great location: a few blocks from Michigan ave, across the street from Trader Joe's and minutes walking distance to Whole Foods, ATT,  Apple, Nordstrom's, Marshall's, Neiman-Marcus and, of course, some fabulous restaurants.
The Chicago skyline is probably one of the best in the world. The building architecture throughout the area is magnificent. We took a river cruise - something we wanted to do for years but never quite had the time. (It's time to make time!)
River Cruise Boat

Enjoying Chicago's Skyline (Our First Selfie)
The tour guide was fantastic - the beautiful city took on another perspective - it came alive even more with the guide's anecdotal tidbits.

Between movies (sometimes three a day), we found other things to do such as rushing through the Chicago Science Museum and the Chicago Art Institute. There were two fascinating exhibits at the science museum: a captured WWII German submarine and a tour of "coal mine."
A Real U-Boat
Rough and Dangerous Work!

 One of the best parts of the trip was to revisit some of our favorite Impressionistic paintings!

Miscellaneous Chicago experiences:
  • Most of the taxi drivers that took us from "A" to "B" migrated from Africa. They were highly educated, well off, etc but gave up a good life style to come to the USA, start over so that their children would have even a better life.
  • There is a large, multi-storied brick building - plenty of stain glass windows. Bloomingdales, a bank and other establishments use this old building. It used to be one of the main synagogues.
  • Looking at the retail store fronts is always interesting - particularly in Chicago and New York. Furs, especially fur on shoes, holes in clothing, mixed styles and thick shoe soles seem to be the trend. 
  •  We happened to be walking down Michigan Ave. one evening and came across two police officers (blackman and Hispanic woman) walking their beat. We struck up a conversation with them - quite enlightening. Much like Los Angeles, there have been (at times) 20 - 30 weekly gang-related killings. The reason? The gang infrastructure has been broken. Overall, there is little leadership - little control. This translates into each block/street now has its own gang and decentralized territory. While we were talking, a 20-something black man comes up, entered into the conversation and mentioned that he (and other young men) have to try and create "law and order" because the police don't come into "the hood" for fear of being shot. Police morale appears to be low re pensions have been reduced, no political leadership/support, many medical issues due to the weight of wearing/carrying all of their equipment. The policeman took off his Kevlar vest and handed it to us so that we could get the feel of the weight. Seemingly, they can't wait until it's time to retire.
It was a great week. Jerry's meetings were successful. We experienced a variety of movies. Food was delish. Museums always provide a fun and enlightening experience.