2009 08 chicago summer

may: maifest

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flickr set

Maifest takes place at Lincoln Square, which is 30mins from my place. It’s like the May version of Oktoberfest. Lots of beer, bratwurst, pretzels and bands dressed in lederhosen. Very, very German in this German neighbourhood.

I had a couple of glasses of beer, bratwurst and leberkaese served with potato salad and sauerkraut. The leberkaese was advertised as bavarian meatloaf, it tasted more like luncheon meat. Nice though.

june: midsommarfest

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Midsommarfest is:

one of Chicago’s most unique street fairs. Born out of Andersonville’s Swedish heritage, Midsommarfest retains its quaint, international flavor. Old-world Swedish traditions, including a festive dance around the Maypole, are incorporated into an unrivaled array of entertainment for families and adults.

Considering I live 3 minutes away, it’s a no-brainer, especially when the weather was so nice. I thought I’d get some good pictures too. But no, it was too crowded and the stalls not that interesting. There were lots of arts and crafts, food and beer. Religious, political and community groups were well represented. I took a picture of one of the stages, and one of the spit roasting pork, that was it.

I actually went back home, dropped my camera and went back. Tried a 10” long Italian sausage sandwich, a corn dog and a sangria that everyone was drinking. It was a nice way of spending the late afternoon.

august: market days

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flickr set

Not sure what I expected, but there wasn’t a market there, heehee. Instead, it’s a bit like midsommarfest only more crowded and more boisterous. Suffice it to say that market days are held at N Halsted, the same stretch where Pride takes place, to give an idea of the participants. Lots of stalls lining both sides of the street, from organisations soliciting for members, marketing by major companies (T-mobile, Comcast etc) to food and drink, craft, jewelry, clothing stalls.

I had a Polish Plate at one of the stalls — stuffed cabbage, polish sausage, sauerkraut, potato pancake, 3 perogis — at $10 not cheap, but nice tasting and filling. Better than the burgers, pizzas and fried noodles at other stalls. I also tried a Bud Light Lime, which tasted really bland, but what did I expect?

There were several stages set up along the route, and I stayed to enjoy a couple of the bands. There was a rock band, Hag (“it’s a good word,” said the keyboardist) made up of middle-aged women who belted out 80s classics like Vacation and Gold Dust Woman. The lead guitarist was good, even though she looked like someone’s really nice mom. I also watched an Abba tribute band, and they attracted a HUGE crowd. Old and young were all bouncing up and down with the well-known tunes.

Again, it being boystown, and a hot day, there were plenty of, well, skin as well as more outrageously dressed individuals. Everyone was plenty willing to let me take their pictures, even posing. A woman asked if I was Press, which gave me warm fuzzy memories of GCLS.

august: lollapalooza

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flickr set

I spent 9 hours (1-10pm) on Sunday at lollapalooza, which is one of America’s prime music festival events. It’s a 3-day event, but as I looked at the lineup, I decided I could only do one day, especially since I had to go to work friday. I was a bit bummed that I missed Depeche Mode on Friday and Gomez, TV on the Radio and Tool on Saturday. Ah well, next year.

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It was a HOT, HOT, HOT day. We were allowed sealed bottle water, and throughout the day I made sure I was hydrated. Okay, I had 3 Bud Lights in addition to the water, watermelon and smoothies I enjoyed. I also diligently bought and used sunblock; and a cute fedora I bought at one of the stalls. The first pic here shows a fire department “mobile ventilation unit” which they used to fan water for a cooling shower for the participants. The second pic shows what seems to be all 225,000 attendees.

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There were 8 stages, and with Grant Park 1 mile long, it was essential to plan. There were only a couple of overlaps where I had to decide, most of the time it was obvious who I wanted to see. I caught the end of Bat for Lashes, who I’ve never heard of but will likely buy their album now. Then mid-afternoon it was Airborne Toxic Event, who were more subdued than I expected. I wondered if I should have gone to see Kaiser Chiefs instead. I was fairly close to the stage, although being short it was difficult to see over the shoulders of people in front of me.

A short break afterwards, during which I chomped down a portion of Jack Daniels bbq wings washed down with a watermelon wedge. Then it was back to the same stage to see Vampire Weekend, which got us jumping and doing screams. I only know their most well-known songs, and I sang along like the other audience members.

It was then time to explore the other side of the festival, more food, looking around the stalls, bypassing the autograph area. Found myself in the dance pit section, where DJ Boyz Noise was spinning. Then caught the end of Dan Auerbach before heading to Lou Reed. Unfortunately Lou was disappointing, so I walked the whole mile back to the south end, got a tamale/taco combo, a smoothie and a frozen kefir (like frozen yogurt), my last Bud Light and found a seat on the lawn to wait for The Killers.

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Brandon Flowers and gang did not disappoint, opening with Human, rocking hard through their repetoire and finishing with a flourish with Read My Mind, Mr Brightside and All These Things that I’ve Done. We sang “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” over and over and over again, it was brilliant. Two encores later, I joined the thousands on my way home, very satisfied, very buzzed and feeling a little like I was 21 again.

august: air & water show

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flickr set

The Air & Water Show took place over this weekend. I found a spot at the lakeside between Oak Street Beach and Ohio Beach, it wasn’t as crowded as the main area at North Beach. Weather-wise it would have been better to come yesterday, cos today it was overcast and rained a bit. I had my hat on so I wasn’t bothered, I was more annoyed at the lack of blue skies and good light. I got there just before 2pm. Seemed like I just missed whatever was on the program before cos it was a good 30-40mins before the display started again.

I must confess I have no idea what models the planes were, just that they were very impressive — both the planes and the pilots’ flying skills. I was a bit too far south to be in the middle of the action, even though I could see pretty well. First there was a series of single plane displays. The biplane was especially crazy.

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The main attraction was of course the US Airforce Thunderbirds and even I knew they were flying F-16s. The cloud cover gave them an advantage to sneak up on us, I was looking around trying to spot them approaching. All in all it was a magnificent display of precision flying. And the noise!! Especially when they flew over my head.

video of thunderbirds (no audio): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6PM7HgiddXM