Chicago Addick living in Bermuda
My kinda town
And it certainly was. I leave this fabulous city tomorrow for Bermuda with a heavy heart. I leave behind some great friends and at least initially I also leave my patient girlfriend and perhaps forever my apartment, which I have put a lot of tender loving care in to. However keeping it means that Chicago will always be a home to me.
I often describe Chicago as a bit of a secret, at least amongst Brits and Europeans. Many visitors to this vast country would probably have Chicago way down on the list of places to see. Well how wrong they are. Chicago, the city of big shoulders, does not keep itself to itself, it wears it's heart on it's sleeve and asks to be explored.
Lake Michigan, the Windy City's very own ocean, it's beaches, cutting-edge architecture and skyscrapers the rest of the world tries to immitate, a daunting array of fine restaurants, world class museums, legendary blues, quirky neighbourhoods, its oh-so frustrating sports teams, and the snow.... there is a lot of snow all made bearable by beautiful summers that Chicagoans make the very, very most off. Not goodbye but au revoir Chicago."My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of town, Chicago is
My kind of people too
People who, smile at you
And each time I leave, Chicago is
Tugging my sleeve, Chicago is
One town that won't let you down
It's my kind of town"
Coming to America
America has been good to me, but it is coming to an end, in just a few days time I will be out of here and living on an island. Looking back I have often been unbelievably harsh on the country and it's people, but then for all of it's alluring charm and intrepidness, it can be equally a great place to live as it can be frustrating and brazen.
America is however a fascinating land. Vast, captivating, advanced, backward, beautiful and scary. Each state a country on it's own, the country being coalesced together into the east-coast, midwest, west-coast, south-east etc frankly does it a disservice. There are not two places alike and whilst other huge countries break up into smaller fragments, it amazes me how the US stays shoulder to shoulder as one. You have to give it to them, they are a proud and patriotic race.
I have been fortunate and have seen a fair bit of this world, nevertheless I have come across some towns and cities in this country that are unlike anywhere else I have seen. It is said that the cognoscente live on the coasts and around the Great Lakes, that the lands in the middle don't matter and sure crossing the Mississippi River can be like stepping out of a time machine, but believe me, it is all worth exploring just to seek the boundless diffences between the places and it's 304 million people, of whom either themselves or their ancestors began life in another part of the world.
One thing America does is asked to be travelled. In my time here I have visited 31 of it's 50 states and with Bermuda being so accessible I will hope to add to that total in time. I have met many amazing, inquisitive and friendly people, as I have strange, unworldly but still friendly people.
One thing that's true though is that coming to America was a wonderful decision, a truly life changing experience and I would recommend it to anyone.
This week is a becoming more stressed than I had hoped. There is an endless list of tasks to do, and it was not helped by our toilet trauma, when frankly I nearly lost it on Tuesday afternoon. Today we are waiting for some more deliveries and continue to work on our inventory list for the shippers. If nothing else we have cornered the market in being organised. Sadly I've had to turn down a couple of invites to the White Sox v Cubs
cross-town return Friday. It would be a nice way to bow out of the city but it ain't going to happen as I also need to pop back into work tomorrow afternoon.
The Euros have somewhat escaped me since the weekend. I did happen to watch chunks of two of the worst games at the tournament, Croatia v Turkey and Spain v Italy. I watched the highlights of the German win over the Turks though, in what was a fantastic spectacle - the Turks deserve a lot of credit for being involved in so many exciting games.
I have devised a little plan this afternoon, which should allow me to see the Russia v Spain semi. Amazingly I predicted this match-up before the competition and put Spain down for a 3-2 win, lets hope two of the best footballing sides in Europe live up to expectations. I should also tell you that I had the Germans down as my other finalists (smiley dewbry).
My Chicago - #19 The Magnificent Mile
Not a neighbourhood but a street. Chicago's busiest and the cities main channel from where everything else flows. Michigan Avenue is the actual name of the street but the Magnificent Mile is only slightly more than a mile of a road that actually runs for 17 miles, the majority of which travels south as far as 127th Street but unless you live down that way, 99.99% of the people that visit the windy city are only really excited in about a mile of it.
After the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the original Water Tower
at 806 N Michigan Avenue was one of the few
buildings left standing, and being the most beautiful it therefore became a symbol of resilience and regeneration for the people of Chicago, and eventually came to be the foundation of the Magnificent Mile and still stands proud today. Built in 1869 from yellowing Joliet limestone, the tower stands at 154 feet tall and inside was a 138 foot high standpipe to hold water. The tower (left) provides a sharp contrast to the surrounding buildings and if a nose in the visitor centre takes away too much time from shopping for gifts, then at least stand and gaze at it for a minute or two.
In 1909, Chicago's planners decided to turn Michigan Avenue from a trading post into a commercial street. First they widened the street and then devised a plan for the beautification of it. Four years later the Michigan Avenue Bridge
was constructed to draw shoppers from the Loop area in the South to this new commercial district in the North. This encouraged d
evelopers and a chewing gum magnate called William Wrigley Jr decided to build his company headquarters on land right by the new bridge. The Wrigley Building
(right) is still an icon of the city and at night it's lit by floodlights with a clock on the south tower facing all directions drawing eyes to it from the ground level.
Across the street from Wrigley came the Chicago Tribune Tower. The newspaper held a reader competition to design it's new home in 1922 offering a $50,000 prize, better than bingo eh? The winner was a neo-Gothic design by New York architects Howells & Hood. The Tribune Tower
is best viewed from the pavement because prior to the construction newspapers correspondents brought back rocks and bricks from a variety of historically important sites throughout the world at the request of the paper's owner Colonel Robert McCormick.
Many of these relics were incorporated into the lowest levels of the building and are labelled with their location of origin. Amazingly stones included in the wall are from such sites as the the Taj Mahal, the Parthenon, the Palace of Westminster, the Great Pyramid, The Alamo, Notre Dame, Abraham Lincoln’s Tomb, the Great Wall of China and the Berlin Wall. In all, there are 136 fragments in the building. Go on take a pen and paper and find them.
After the Wrigley Building and Tribune Tower, other famous buildings were built, and remember Chicago builds them high. However the Depression interrupted all the fun and it wasn't until 1947 that a bloke called Arthur Rubloff, a developer, put into place a plan to give this part of town a make-over and Rubloff is credited with christening this part of the street from the Chicago River to the beginnings of Lincoln Park 'The Magnificent Mile.'
Start your walk at the flag adorned Michigan Bridge facing the Wrigley Building on the left with it's crazy enclosed walkway that joins the two towers on the 14th floor and head north with a credit card, some decent shoes and plenty of time and patience.
First on the left you will come to Nordstrom
, well not really because the department store known for it's shoes, is actually a block back, but they cleverly make you walk through a mall
to get there. In here however is a massive Lego
shop a Chicago Sports shop and a Huge Hugo Boss
. Across the street is the Intercontinental Hotel
, built in 1929 and just inside a cool cheese and wine bar called Eno
is next door and if you've exchanged pounds for dollars, this will be a cheap as you like!
On the corner of Ontario Street is Coach
, keep the girls away from there, and just around the corner is the fishing experts Orvis
. Right across the street is one of my favourite lunch spots, Grand Lux Cafe
, the portions are huge, the menu is excellent and the decor is, well grand. Back onto Michigan Avenue and there's Burberry
, still considered chic and not chavvy in the US, with it's huge Union Jack flag flapping in the breeze and Cartier
is across the street for that little something! Approaching
Erie Street now and just behind here towards the lake is the Museum of Contemporary Art
. It's free to enter on Tuesdays by the way. Keep walking along the Magnificent Mile and pop in the very modern Garmin
store, then join the masses trying on 'sneakers' in the four floors of Niketown
and finally go in and play with everything in the Apple Store
. If you need a lie down at this point on the other side of the street is the Omni Hotel
Cross over Huron St and Saks Fifth Avenue
is on both sides of the street, just before the Allerton Hotel
with it's landmark 'Tip Top Tap'
lighted sign on top of it. The Allerton was given a $60m facelift a few years back and it's beautiful towers date from 1924. The next block on the east side of the street presents Tiffany
, Pottery Barn
and the flagship Ralph Lauren
store with it's very own restaurant, RL
next door, which is always busy. Next door to that is American Girl Place
and if you have daughters under 10, then you will wish you'd never set eyes on it. They have security lines outside at Christmas as the place gets so overcrowded, although later this year it is moving to a much bigger space further up across the street.
Left on Superior Street is my favourite Chicago hotel, The Peninsula
. The hotel Bar
is the best place to impress a lady in the city, allegedly! Back onto Michigan Avenue and another posh store is Neiman Marcus
and this completes the luxury sextuplet of upscale department stores with Barneys
just around the corner on Rush Street.
The street then opens up into a nice square with the aforementioned Water Tower and it's recently renovated sister building the Chicago Avenue Pumping Station. It doesn't sound much to look at but it is. Perhaps time then for a little sit down to take in the scene with something from the Hershey's
or the Ghirardelli's Chocolate Cafe
across the street? Above shining down over you is the Park Hyatt
hotel, with the wonderful NoMI
restaurant window beckoning you in. The Garden Bar is open all day, grab a Caipirinha and peer over your newspaper at the gorgeous people here, no one will ever know.
A massive Borders
is on the corner of E. Pearson Street opposite Macy's
, although I much prefer the one on State Street. Ask any Chicagoan though and it will always be Marshall Fields
. Behind Macy's is the imposing if quite ugly Water Tower Place
. In here eight of the 74 flo
ors are given over to shopping (you had enough yet?) with Abercrombie & Fitch
and Victoria Secret
competing against each other on who can have the skinniest staff! There is a theatre in here too plus naturally loads of places to eat. Oprah Winfrey is rumoured to own the whole of the top floor of the building.
It's at this point the pedestrian traffic becomes a bit congested as everyone cranes their necks 1,500 feet into the sky to gasp at the John Hancock Center
(very top right), the 3rd tallest building in the world if we include antennaes in the race. A cocktail in the 95th floor Signature Room
is an absolute must-do for visitors. Below ground positioned around a fountain is The North Face
, every Chicagoan's favourite winter staple and next door the Cheesecake Factory
offloads about a gazillion calories to still starving shoppers. Opposite on the corner of Michigan and Chestnut is the Fourth Presbeterian Church
, a visual and physical oasis amid the high-rise hubbub. Every Friday at noon concerts are held in the Church's Sanctuary.The Whitehall
is a nice boutiquey hotel, with a decent bar but from here you cannot fail to see the iconic Drake Hotel
. This long time Chicago landmark is an Italian Renaissance style building built in 1920 with 537 bedrooms, 74 suites, a 6-room Presidential Suite just in case the future President Obama wants to stay in town after a few sherberts! The Drake has featured in many movies including Mission: Impossible
and afternoon tea here is another thing to add to your intinerary. In this little stretch of street the shops get rather high-end with Gucci
, Louis Vuitton
(don't knock it, you may need another suitcase!) and Chanel
. Good people watching if nothing else.
Then as the Magnificent Mile gives way to Lincoln Park and views of Lake Michigan at 900 N. Michigan
the busy Bloomingdales
holds court in a 871 foot limestone tower. Bloomies only has part of this building though, the Four Seasons Hotel
occupies the middle 14 floors and there are a number of other shops worth a nose too. On the 5th floor is Frankie's
, an excellent pizzeria. Skylights are a bit of Chicago institution and the four 'lanterns' on top of the Bloomingdales building change colour depending on the event. The same happens at the Hancock, Sears Tower
, Wrigley Building, Aon Center
and the Merchandise Mart
Shop to you drop, eat, drink and be merry. The Magnificent Mile with it's wide pavements, street entertainment, beautiful and ingenious flower beds that tell stories is almost unavoidable on a trip to Chicago. Of course you can turn your nose up at it, but your stories of the windy city when you get home will not be complete.
A busy weekend, although yesterday was spent at home sorting 'stuff' out, waiting on deliveries and annoyingly watching a plumber struggle fitting a new toilet (don't ask!). So no toilet last night fortunately we have another plus there is always the balcony. He's just come back looking exceptionally hassled to fix it. He better is all I'm going to say.
Friday night some friends found this superb little restaurant
out in Logan Square, west of downtown. There was no menu, the chef just noted the wine we brought with us as it wasn't licensed, and worked a menu around it. Ingenious.
Saturday we were up and out and got the train down to a small lakeside beach town called Long Beach
in Indiana to spend a glorious day with some friends. We were on the last very slow electric train back to the city Saturday night, so we could get a load of stuff done on Sunday plus some how cram in two street festivals, one was our local River North Summerfest
, which was certainly bigger than ever before and then Sunday night we met some friends at the Taste of Randolph Street
. A part of town commonly known as Restaurant Row there was some fine outdoor fare and we caught Josh Ritter
live on stage, who was good. Very Bob Dylan-esque.
Oh and Sunday lunchtime I played footie in the midday heat and scored in what was sadly my penultimate game. Crazy golf is on the agenda today, although it will be muggins here that'll be crazy if I have nowhere to pee tonight!Update 6pm:
I'm going to kill my bathroom contractor.
World cup agony for Bermuda
Damn and blast. Bermuda went out of the 2010 world cup yesterday losing the 2nd leg of their CONCACAF qualification game to Trinidad & Tobago 2-0 after surprisingly winning the 1st leg away seven days ago 2-1.
The result was no shocker but it was disappointing for the Bermudians, many of whom had queued from Saturday to get in. 5,000 went away angry at the way the game was officiated by Guatemalan referee Carlos Batres, who allowed Stern John's tie-winning 69th minute goal to stand despite the Bermudians making a subsitution at the same time, and then after booking Trinidad's Aurtis Whitley twice, failing to send their captain off. Oh well, there is a very biased report here
if you want to read more, but other reports suggest it was a comfortable victory for the 2006 finalists.
I'm doubly disappointed because qualification would have propelled Bermuda into a semi-final group that would have included Cuba, Guatemala and the USA, with the game on the mainland being held in Chicago in September! Oh well might have to be Selhurst instead.
Last day in the office, I am surrounded by boxes and a rather large bin. I have made sure that my football programmes that I rescued from my ex-wifes garage before she burnt them and have been in a box under my desk have been packed safely. Of course I couldn't resist reading one or two of them and John Fryer's 'Message to our Supporters'
was tucked in an Aldershot v Halifax Town match programme from 1983 - very strange.
It will be sad leaving here, I have helped build a fantastic team of people and the last week or so has been a bit emotional. I can't possibly do any more leaving do's though. I went out again last night and the alcoholic intake is doing nothing for my weight loss.
Anyway next week we are at home, my last week in Chicago. We have a few things planned to do but the watchword is organised, but thankfully we have a shipping company that will come in and pack our stuff.
So back to my packing then, I'll start with my framed photograph on my office wall of The Valley from 1975. The tin of Heinz Spotted Dick
, which someone brought back from London for me 4 years ago might have to go in the bin though!
Mental Strength 3, Flair and Skill 2
Knew those bloody Jeermans would win
. Portugal were in my final four but then again so were the Germans and when mental strength takes over from keepy-uppy then you'd have to back the Germans in a one-off over the Portuguese. I listened to talk of rumblings of discontent in the Portuguese camp particularly regarding Ronaldo's club situation and the strange timing of the announcement of Luiz Felipe Scolari's move to Chelsea. I just hope that doesn't happen to the Dutch, although their quarter final against Russia looks like being a cracker.
Unfortunately that might be a game I'll miss Saturday as we travel down to see some friends who live on Lake Michigan. I'll have to persuade them to switch the cross-town derby baseball game between the Cubs and White Sox
over so we can see the footie. Tomorrow I plan to watch the Croatia v Turkey game with my Croat mate in the afternoon, a match of contrasting styles if ever there was one. I play football Sunday but should be home in time to see the Latino non-love affair in Vienna between old rivals Italy and Spain.
Otherwise it's a weekend of catching up with people before we leave. Both Friday and Sunday nights we are seeing friends, this moving thing is getting very real now!
Shoot no more
I missed this the other day, not sure if you did but IPC Media have axed Shoot
magazine after almost 40 years."It is with great regret that we have had to make this decision. We are of course in consultation with the six permanent staff directly affected by the proposal, and every effort will be made to find alternative jobs if this becomes necessary."
Very sad day indeed, although to be fair in the early '80's when football took my life away I was more of a Match Weekly
boy myself and the weekly still dominates that market. I moved onto World Soccer
in teen life, I used to suck that global footie stuff in and created whole Subbuteo competitions around the stories, interviews and stats that Brian Glanville
and others provided.
In it's heyday Shoot used to sell 120,000 copies a week, but that was down to just 30,000 a month recently as kids turned their noses up at what had became a shadow of it's 80's read. My son has never shown any interest in Shoot or Match whenever we have been trawling through newsagents, why would he when he goes home and either puts the tele' on or jumps on the internet?
Do you remember those league ladders that Shoot used to produce? I found a photograph here, look Charlton and Millwall in Division 1 in 1989! Brilliant.
A gloomy tale then as Shoot joins Top of the Pops, Texan Bars, The Hitman and Her, the Radio 1 Tuesday lunchtime chart show and Black Jack's in the category marked 'treasured memories.'
Swans first, er then everyone else
Ah the fixtures
, a sure way to shake the cobwebs away of the previous season. That and when the BBC finally move the teams up and down into their rightful sections on the website. The fixture list means different things to me these days. I'm actually not looking out for Blackpool away to be in the spring or a trip to Doncaster to be on a Saturday, apologies to those that are.
A home Boxing Day game is good news for me as I hope to be back in the UK this year for Christmas. The opening game, like last year, my son and I plan to attend, so Swansea at home works better than a trip to Preston for example. My visits back from now on will be around the school holidays as opposed to whenever a client wanted to go, which is what happened previously, and that should allow for a bit more premeditation.
I certainly want to take in some awaydays, you can't beat a good road trip and in this division they appear more fun* and midweek doesn't affect me because I won't (hopefully) have to get up in the morning to go to work. Palace away I have my eye and one of those away games in the final 6 weeks of the season has my name on, as long as we are not all depressed by then.
I'm a believer that we have to play everyone twice so it doesn't matter how they come out of the computer but it does look a tricky start, but there are no easy fixtures, everyone can beat each other and we are a Premier League side blah, blah....
The worst kept secret since Amdy Faye actually being a painter and decorator and not a footballer was officially announced today and that was the signing of Forest Green Rovers striker Stuart Fleetwood
. One can assume that one of either Bent, McLeod, Iwelumo, Varney, Gray or Dickson will be sold, either that or Pards is going for the all out attack plan that worked so well last season!
Bent has to go somewhere to raise some capital, if nothing else. A forward roll call of Varney, Gray, Todorov, Dickson and Fleetwood I would be content with. Someone told me, or perhaps I made it up, but anyhow both Fleetwood and Dickson have the same celebration when they score. Lets hope we see it plenty next season. Can you see me now?
*Fun, I use the word loosely!
Get in Gombey's!
How exciting was the Czech Republic v Turkey
game earlier? Even at two-down I thought the Turks were never out of it and they fully deserved their victory. Turkey's quarter final game with Croatia should be very deserving of being two of the best eight teams in Europe and what about poor old Petr Čech eh?
The standard in the tournament so far has been outstanding and hopefully the excitement continues to build as we move through the all or nothing last round of group matches. I'm not missing England's participation at all, but as other people have pointed out from what I've seen we are a long way behind the majority of teams in this competition.
Anyway elsewhere in another continent today Bermuda's 2010 world cup dream continued. Ranked 139th in the world Bermuda have made it through to Round 2 after beating the Cayman Islands over two legs in Round 1. They were then drawn against 2006 final qualifiers Trinidad and Tobago, ranked number 87 in the world but 6 in the CONCACAF zone. The first leg was in the T&T in Macoya this afternoon and guess what? Bermuda WON!
It was quite a shock in the region and now the 'Gombey Warriors' host the return next Sunday in Hamilton. Bermuda's team is made up almost entirely of players that live on the island, although 17-year old Reggie Lambe
did come on as sub and he's in Ipswich Town's youth team. John Barry Nusum, who plays professional indoor soccer in Philadelphia scored both goals, the first in the 8th minute finishing a cross from Khano Smith to silence the home crowd.
Stern John equalised but Nusum sealed victory just before half-time. A second half barrage from Trinidad & Tobago ensued but the Bermudian's held on. T&T's team included Sunderland's Carlos Edwards, Walsall's Clayton Ince, Swansea's Dennis Lawrence and Jason Scotland plus Southampton's Stern John.
The winners will go into a 3-group, 4-team round robin competition. Details here
. The USA in the same round today thrashed Barbados 8-0
in Los Angeles in front of 11,400 people.
My Chicago - #18 Oak Park
Another city neighbourhood that is not actually in the city. Famous as the home of architect Frank Lloyd Wright Oak Park
is less than 10 miles directly west of downtown and a small oasis with excellent transport links, a thriving arts scene and good schools and therefore perfect for families not yet ready to give up city life.
Oak Park is also a stop on the tourist trail for Chicago visitors. Many come to view the Frank Lloyd Wright buildings found throughout the village. The largest collection of Wright-designed residential properties in the world is in Oak Park. Over 30 buildings were designed and built by America's most influential architect who worked and lived here from 1889 to 1909. His home and studio at 951 Chicago Avenue has been restored by the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust
to its original 1909 appearance and the Preservation Trust has two superb self-guided audio tours that I would recommend. One is inside his home & studio and the other is of the local area complete with map that lasts about an hour and takes you past 20 examples of his work. Note that all the homes are privately owned so keep nosing in the window to a minimum!
Other Oak Park attractions are Ernest Hemingway's
place of birth and family home at 339 North Oak Park Avenue. Now a museum the house where Hemingway was born in 1899 has gone major renovation and includes many original pieces. Two blocks away is a museum
documenting his life
and his literature. The museum contains rare photographs and writings from a man known for his adventure and as an inspiration to many modern day authors.
Another claim to fame of Oak Park are the three homes of Chicagoan Edgar Rice Burroughs, the creator of Tarzan. Edgar Rice Burroughs
was said to be an influence on a young Hemingway when he lived in Oak Park between 1910 and 1919.
The north part of the town contains many large houses and mansions, particularly along the pretty tree-lined Chicago Avenue and North Oak Park Avenue. Most of the action downtown
is at the cross section of Lake's and Marion Street. An ice cream shop, Cold Stone Creamery
(134 N Marion St) was very welcome when we were here at the end of last summer and we had some very decent middle eastern food sat outside the Jerusalem Cafe
The landmark Lake Theater
is the place to see a movie and there is an arts district on Harrison Street
, which is a little walk from downtown. This area has become popular with the more independent boutiques and restaurants. The Oak Park Conservatory
is only a $1 to go in and has a vast fern and orchid collection and nearby Rehm Park
is beauteous and has a huge outdoor pool and concerts fill the air in the summer months.
I spent the day of my birthday last year at Oak Park and we made a good choice. With it's architecture, gardens, and family feel Oak Park has a lot to catch the eye.
A Clockwork Orange
Another weekend comes around, and thus another week nearer to our move. We plan to see a couple of friends tomorrow night and we are going to pop down to the Old Town Art Fair
, which is always an enjoyable event and it presents me with a chance to spend some more money!
Meanwhile the Euro's soldier on. Italy and Romania played out a fine 1-1 draw earlier but it was the Dutch who are fast becoming the darlings of the championship. Another beautiful display of counter-attacking football saw them thrash the sorry French 4-1. If Romania beat Holland next week, then the two world cup finalists will bow out of the group of death!
I was disappointed to see the Swiss go out after just 5 days, the Swiss public deserved better I thought too off manager Kobi Khun's perspective after the game: "That's football but the existence of Switzerland will probably not be endangered by getting knocked out. We'll wrap up the tournament in good fashion against Portugal on Sunday and then for me it'll be time to put my feet up."
Perhaps it is not all about the winning?
Meanwhile the Austrians have to beat old foes Germany on Monday in Vienna to advance, and I don't give them a wiener schnitzel's chance of doing that. The capricious Spaniards play tomorrow against the Swedes, they and the Dutch have easily looked the best sides in the first week of the competition from what I have seen. On Wednesday I thought Portugal looked very beatable as were the German's yesterday, much to my Croatian mates delight.
I've noticed that Addick Bloggers are slowly starting to report on last night's Blogger meeting with Richard Murray and Ben Hayes following the expiration of a lunchtime moratorium. I planned to join by conference call but unfortunately I had something crop up that I had to do and thus missed out, but you can read some accounts of the meeting here
4 years old
Four years on and this blog is old enough to have a passport, and so shortly me and What was the score
will up sticks and leave this wonderful city and start a new ISP somewhere else and as you already know that somewhere else will be the Bermuda Islands in the Atlantic Ocean. My 2-year visa has finally come through and is in the post to me and I plan to be in Bermuda from July 1st.
My move opens my writing up to a whole new chapter of exploration. Sure, this blog will predominately be about my life long love for Charlton Athletic, now 1,002 miles nearer to my chosen place of work and living but as my readers will know this blog is also a travelogue and a diary. I love Chicago and criticised it sometimes but also promoted it's captivating splendor at every opportunity. Bermuda will deservedly get the same Chicago Addick
Ah, that brings me to my name. What was the score
came to me simply because it would be the first words out of my mouth when I'd call home to get the Addicks result. It might be time to lose that moniker but I don't think I'm ready to forefeit Chicago Addick
. Yes, I thought about Bermuda Addick, but at which point do I stop? Chicago Addick
is a bit of a tourist, an explorer. Bermuda is just next on my list.
So four years after I penned my first post
, a lot has happened, and it's all over there on the right-hand side of the page. People say that writing is selfish. I mean what is a blog about ones self if it is not selfish? Regardless ask any budding blogger and there is no better feeling than getting a reaction, an opinion, a comment or just a visit. The next chapter approaches and I want to share it. Whoever or wherever you are, thank you very much for popping by.
Route 66 and the Hoover Dam
, America's Main Street was established in 1926 and begins at Chicago's Lake Shore Drive and travels 2,448 miles westwards across the country to Los Angeles. It was officially taken off the list of highways by the authorities in 1985, but since the 1990's the historic road has seen a rebirth as preservation groups with the help of some cities and states have brought big stretches of Route 66 back to life.
Route 66 has been immortalized in literature and music. John Steinback called it the 'M
other Road' in his book The Grapes of Wrath
about a family forced from Midwest land and their journey out to California. Nat King Cole sung about getting his Kicks on Route 66
and Charlie and Raymond in the Rain Man
drive it from Cincinnati to Los Angeles.
We decided to follow them and picked up the famous road at Flagstaff
, lying at an altitude of 6,990 feet and just north of Sedona's beautiful red rocks. Our final point was to be the neon lights of Las Vegas, arriving there by driving over the Hoover Dam.
In The Grapes of Wrath
the Joad family packed everything including their two pigs, which they killed to make a barrel of salt pork to live on, into their battered old car. This I thought was a bit extreme and we decided to stop for gas and some pick n mix instead. We drove west out towards a town called Williams
, which is where on my last visit to the Grand Canyon we got stranded in a snowstorm.
s is famous only for it's Amtrak
train station, which is a stopover point between Chicago and Los Angeles. Why anyone would ever train this journey I'll never know. Williams as my brother will tell you is not famous for it's nightlife!
There are many long stretches of isolation on Route 66 and one of them starts after the quirky town of Seligman
. 456 people live in Seligman according to the sign and from what we saw, they all owned a Harley Davidson, a leather jacket and long greasy hair. This was another
one of those 'do people actually live here?' moments and although slighty gimmicky, Seligman was a fun place, if not a little bit scary.
We had a coffee at the Roadkill Cafe
, fortunately we didn't stay for dinner as they were having a gun raffle that evening according to the posters (right). We then walked around the Rusty Bolt
, a befuddling and awe-inducing collection of what some would call old toot. I did actually purchase a Route 66 roadsign for my office though!
We left Seligman, after filling the car up and made our way down to the mountains of Kingman before turning of America's Main Street and heading north on US Route 93 to the Hoover Dam
Named after the project's chief exponent Herbert Hoover, the 31st president, when completed in 1935 it was the world's largest concrete structure (now the Grand Coulee Dam
in Washington). The Colo
rado River flowed merrily along it's 1,400 mile course between the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of California for millions of years but as America's west got settled it often flooded and I'd imagine was right pain in the bandanna back in the day. So to protect the low-lying lands some of the countries best engineering brains planned to control the river.
First of all the river's water had to be divided among the seven states it serves. This treaty was called the Colorado River Compact
and it paved the way for the dam construction to begin in 1931. The completed project came in below budget at $49m and two years ahead of schedule, however one of the world's most famous engineering marvels came at a cost. 112 workers lost their lives.
The dam was built using concrete blocks as large as 25 by 60ft locked tog
ether by a system of vertical keys (think giant lego set). More than 5,500,000 cubic yards of material was excavated. The countries largest lake and reservoir, Lake Mead
was created at the same time and provides much recreation, although to see the 'bath tub' lines high above the water level (right) is evidence that the lake is currently only half full to capacity caused by a combination of drought and the increased water consumption in Las Vegas. Climate research says Lake Mead could be gone by 2021 (more
Despite the dam being open for 73 years there doesn't appear to be any end to people's fascination with it. Certainly modern dams are higher and generate more power but a much needed new bypass is under construction to ease traffic and when we drove through on a Sunday afternoon there were people everywhere trying to find an angle to snap the best photo or walking across the state line between Arizona and Nevada.
There is a visitor tour but at $11 each we declined as I read it wasn't worth it, however seeing the dam in the flesh is, because photos will not do this man-made wonder justice.
Paddy McCarthy moved in the opposite direction today
to Mark Hudson. Interesting move and a decisive one by Pardew. How Hudson was described by Palace fans was a bit like Paddy to be honest, I hope we've got a better deal, we are certainly £500,000 better off not taking into account Hudson's signing on fee.
McCarthy of course had a well documented nightmare the first few months in an Addicks shirt, I didn't see enough of him obviously to see if the turnaround was as good as people said in the 2nd half of the season. Clearly he won the fans over but I felt that he was never too far from a mistake from what I did see."He's a solid defender and I think I can make him a better player and he will enjoy playing for us."
My biggest concern is that if Bougherra goes, then we are scrapping around for another central defender. Fortune is (still) there and Aswad Thomas is in reserve but I am really hoping that the club try to keep Magic, but just like Diawara last summer, if someone wants to leave, that is eventually what happens.
Some of the worst ever tornadoes have been whirling very close to the city of Chicago these last few days. Five smashed through the southern suburbs on Saturday evening with winds between 111 to 135 mph turning trucks over, tearing of roofs and knocking down walls.
Tornadoes are ranked from F0 to F5. Wind speeds of a F0 are between 40-72mph and a F5 has a ferocity of a scary 261mph to 318mph. Only once did Chicago suffer a F5 and that was in 1990 when a tornado formed to the south-west of the city and killed 29 people and caused $165m of damage.
Tornadoes develop several thousand feet above the earth's surface inside a severe rotating thunderstorm, known as a supercell thunderstorm. The tornado is basically a violently rotating column of air which descends from a thunderstorm to the ground actually only touching land for two to three minutes at a time. No other weather phenomenon can match the fury and destructive power of tornadoes.
The weekend's tornadoes were ranked as F2's. South of Chicago on the border of Indiana, a dozen homes in Richton Park were heavily damaged, the I57 was shut following a massive vehicle pile up, five steel transmission towers supporting high-voltage power lines, were severely damaged by the storm leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power and severe flooding is crippling parts of Indiana
On Sunday further thunderstorms came through the Chicago area. I was sat at home watching the wind push the rain horizontally past my balcony. 60mph winds were recorded in the city and on the west side. The storm pushed Lake Michigan water ahead of it so that lake levels dropped by about 2 feet, triggering a warning from the weather service of possibly dangerous conditions when the water came sloshing back, an effect called a seiche
According to the weather service, 112 people have died in tornadoes since the beginning of the year, the most in the United States in a decade.A history of Chicago Tornadoes: NOAA
Great game today between Holland and Italy
, although I sat with two very glum Italians in the pub - they were a bit shellshocked to say the least as the Azzurri fell to their biggest defeat in 25 years! Holland were awesome going forward and could carry a real threat in this competition if they avoid their typical training field bickering.
Euro 2008 needed a decent game after the tight and tactical pair ups we have seen so far. Although van Nistelrooy's first goal was a killer blow to the Italians. The linesman must of been nibbling on some of those Dutch fairy cakes not to have instantly stuck his flag in the air after seeing the Dutchman perched in front of Buffon in about half of mile of space.
The 2nd and 3rd goals were quality, the latter coming just as is customarily, the Italians looked liked getting back into a game that looked lost. As I told my Baresi pals, there is always Friday, when they need to win and hope that the Dutch overcome the Romanian's to keep their qualification hopes in their own hands.
Bent back.... Marcus I'm afraid
Please, please tell me this is not true.
The normally believable South London Press
is reporting that Wigan and Marcus Bent have failed to agree terms and him and his sulking shoulders have returned to SE7.
Charlton chairman Richard Murray told the South London Press: "Marcus will come back to the club as his loan spell has expired and he is one of a number of players who will be placed on the transfer list."
I don't understand why Wigan didn't take Bent permanently, although not scoring since December may have something to do with it. He I expect will be joined by the highest paid player at the club - Amady Faye *cough, splutter*, on this transfer list thingy that Richard Murray talked about. Who else make up the "number?"
I ask myself.
And potentially Ben Thatcher, who won't accept a pay cut, and Madjid Bougherra look more and more likely to leave.
I made my footie comeback yesterday evening playing in our opening outdoor game of the season in stifling heat. I actually only expected to make a cameo appearance just to test the ankle, and particularly as I don't expect to see out the whole season with Bermuda on the horizon. However I played the bulk of the game with no ill-effects, and I was inches from getting the winner when my shot rebounded off the post near the end. The game finished 1-1, my mate getting an absolute cracker for us.
I rode my bike there and back and then after I downed a beer and showered, we then whizzed down to Grant Park to catch the end of the Chicago Blues Festival
, which after 4 days was closed by the legendary BB King. The place was packed, we couldn't really see, we spent most of the time sneezing as the air was full of pollen and other substances, but I'm glad we made an effort to catch a glimpse of the 82-year old BB King in his first Chicago appearance since 1988.
Since I can remember I have always loved watching the major footie championships and back in the day they did often not involve England. My first world cup memories of 1974 and 1978 did not feature the English but it did Scotland's brave attempts in both Germany and Argentina. Home nations failed to qualify for the 1984 Euro's in France and only the Irish made the USA world cup in 1994.
I have promised myself to watch as many games from Switzerland and Austria that I can, or at the very best catch the nightly ESPN highlights evening show, which bizarrely has Andy Gray on as one of the analysts sat alongside American female ex 'soccer' player Julie Foudy who played for the national team 271 times! I wonder if Andy Gray will be saying 'soccer' not football by the end of the month?
The Portuguese looked every inch one of the tournament favourites last night, although I felt sorry for the Swiss masses, they didn't deserve to lose to the Turks and now they have lost their best player Alexander Frei
to injury. Today I hope to watch the crunch match between Poland and Germany which kicks off here at 1.45pm.
My tip are the game's ultimate underachievers Spain. A team with Torres, Villa, the Brazilian born Senna, Puyol and Fabregas should be a joy to watch. Their first match however is against my outside bet (25/1) Russia, who I think will make the last four alongside Germany, Portugal and Spain.
Clearly at home interest in this Euro's is pretty low, although here it is minimal at best despite ESPN's efforts
. I see that Dave Peeps
looks to be taking a keen interest, so I will checking their regularly too.
Meanwhile I have been typing this whilst watching Rafa Nadal anhiliate Roger Federer
in the French Open Final. I don't think I have ever seen Federer involved in such a one-sided game, when he has not been the successor. A bad weekend for the Swiss all round.
Comedy of Errors
No not a belated Addicks match report, but some Shakespeare. I have talked about Navy Pier a number of times on this blog
. To be honest in the evening it can be slightly trashy but if you are in the city for more than a few days, I wouldn't hesistate to tell you to take a stroll up and down the length of this 3,300ft landing place, which has had many iterations since its opening in 1916.
The pier also as I found out last night holds a bit of a secret. Chicago's Shakespeare Theatre
is tucked away a bit more than halfway down and inside, the 510-seat courtyard arena is magnificent. Under the artistic directorship of the controversial Barbara Gaines
, the Shakespheare company began life in the Red Lion Pub
in Lincoln Park, reputed to be the most haunted pub in Chicago. There is a very English pub within the theatre too, but the only spirits we saw came in a bottle.
Last night's performance was a story-within-a-story and backstage antics abounded when a very eccentric and funny group of actors gathered at Shepperton Studios' movie set in the midst of the 1940 London blitz to film Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors
, and superb it was too. The show runs until end of June, and we picked up tickets for $27 each.
New shirts and sponsor
My initial reaction was that they could have been worse. We could do with some more photographs
, couldn't we? I'd like to see them in the flesh but both kits are too busy for me, the home one could lose the underarm white slash but I like the white band under the neck, which I believe goes around the back where the players name is.
The away one I'm disappointed in because I was really looking forward to seeing a white and black away kit. Again far too much going on and a cheap looking version of this much better Joma Seville kit
. Anyway I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder but I don't think I'll be buying one, particularly as the sponsorship deal is for just one year only. No doubt I will buy my son one though.Cabrini
is a chavvy wear for spotty teenagers and like most of us I'd rather have seen us wear the parent companies JD Sports
brand, but 2nd division really does mean 2nd division, doesn't it? I wonder if, big if, we get promoted next year JD will replace Cabrini on the tops. That Cabrini logo on the black background does cheapen the look though as someone said on Charlton Life
I do like that Joma seem to get the red just right mind, so many clubs change the shade of the primary shirt colour. These are the last Joma shirts under our current arrangement and I've like their kits on the whole, both ours and some of the others they produce although the Spanish La Liga aside, Joma has yet to break into the major world leagues. This effort
might not have helped them!
Anyway what do you lot think?
Chicago makes final four for 2016 Olympics
As expected yesterday the International Olympic Committee (IOC) included Chicago
as one of the final four official Candidate Cities for the 2016 summer Olympics.
Baku, Doha and Prague didn't make the cut, which leaves Chicago to fight it out in the bidding process alongside Rio de Janeiro, Madrid and Tokyo. The final decision will be made in Copenhagen in 16 months time.
Only once has a city that came out top of the International Olympic Committee’s preliminary report gone on to host the games, London was a poor 3rd at the same stage for 2012, so lucky then that Chicago came down the various rankings, despite being the bookies favourites.
Tokyo and Madrid walked away with most of the plaudits which include infrastructure, accommodation, safety, venues, finance and environmental conditions. In fact Doha scored higher than Rio overall but their desert climate did for them.
Chicago's best points came unsurprisingly in hotel accommodation and their plan for a lakeside Olympic village. The cities worst aspect was the ageing and investment deprived public transportation system.
Of course there are many reasons why I would love Chicago to win the 2016 Olympic games, especially four years after they'd have been held in London, but one other motive is that my companies founder and retired chairman
is also the leader of Chicago 2016. I have met him on many times and he is a very influential and convincing leader. Lets hope he can help bring the games to the windy city.
Obama - I did tell thee
Old Hills has yet to concede the Democratic nomination race
to Chicagoan Barack Obama, even though Obama clinched the number of delegates needed to be crowned the party's presidential nominee late last night when I was out knocking back some beers. However while Hillary contemplates her future, America is on the brink of electing a person who the rest of the planet can believe in, not just those that live in this fascinating if very endogenous country.
This morning I twist and turned in bed thinking about what I was going to write about to mark this historical event in world politics, however New York Addick
got back to blogging in fine form today and stole my thunder with a very good piece here
An Obama-Clinton partnership surely should give McCain's prosaic Republican party a sound thrashing but politics is never that simple here. McCain does appeal to many centralists, and there is a thought that Obama should stay away from Clinton and choose a middle aged waspy character from the deep south in an attempt to get nervous or unimaginative voters to select him. If a potential vice president owns a few medals then all the better. Vietnam vet Jim Webb
As NYA divulged I did proclaim Obama way back in June 2004
after listening to him a number of times on local television before he made a splash at the Democratic Convention. I don't know about you but rarely does a politician hold my attention for too long, but Obama, for all of his lack of experience, has appeal and an eloquence that mixes at best Kennedy with Luther King and at worst, someone who cares and understands the need for change. Sure he looks visibly tired but I hope he can get some good rest before he takes on McCain's Republican machine.
Lastly without tooting my horn too much I found this article in an October 2005 issue of the New Statesman
suggesting Obama was one of ten people that could change the world. What were they doing for 8 months eh?
Bad start to the day
Cor I had a 'mare this morning. 4 hours of sleep after a very boozy leaving do yesterday. Then I decided to give going to the Chicago Police Dept a miss this morning in lieu of staying in bed. Long story on the Police Dept but to do with Bermuda Immigration.
So woke up walked to work, then my phone rang and it was our bathroom contractor. He's at our place to look in our toilet (ironically not 20 minutes after I was!). The new toilet has a hairline crack in the bowl see? Right, I said, I'll get a cab back home.
In cab, he calls me again. He's not actually there yet himself said but his mate is. Ok, get home and no sign of anyone. The lady on our front desk explains that someone was waiting outside but they have now gone.
Flip I didn't say, and went to call the bloke. No phone. I have left it in the back of the cab. I call it five times, and cabbie eventually answers it and said he will bring it back later as he was on the way to the airport.
So I wait in for my contractor, and he never returned. My phone did, and I went to work with a sore head and the hump about 11am.
My kinda Swingtown
I wonder if this new American docu-drama will make it across the Atlantic later this year and be as successful as Lost
or Desperate Housewifes
is set in the socially and sexual revolution of 1970's and premieres on CBS Thursday and is expected to turn a few heads."Viewers can expect to see the following scenes in the first episode: a ménage à trois; a high school junior smoking pot and later flirting with her English teacher; the flagrant enjoyment of quaaludes and cocaine; and the sight of the neighborhood scold unwittingly stumbling upon a groaning and slithering orgy. "Why don’t you kick your shoes off, Mom, and join the party?" is how a middle-aged participant, clad only in mutton chops, says hello."
Firstly network television is not where this kind of show gets aired, HBO is the place for anything the older and more religious demographic don't want to see, and secondly it is based on the exploits of a family who live in the posh and leafy Chicago suburb of Winnetka
, on the north shore.
Swingtown is written and produced by Chicagoan Mike Kelley and was inspired by his parents love of experiementing in the 1970's. In the show the Millers move into a ritzy Chicago suburb, make some new friends and discover a seedy alluring side to life that they never knew existed. Watching the promotional clip on You Tube
, it looks very promising but not quite how I remember Catford being in the 70's!
Chicago tour guide role being wound down
It's been very nice having my quasi sister-in-law and her two girls with us. We went to the Lincoln Park Zoo
yesterday, phew there were some funny looking things t
here, and the gorilla's and warthogs were overweight and intriging too! Seriously my ostensive nieces are a credit to their parents, and their Auntie of course and it's been really satisfying showing people around the city once again, and sadly probably for the last time.
Last night we managed to slip out and see a couple of old Chicago friends of ours. He an Aussie, although probably the biggest Anglophile since Loyd Grossman, come on mate, admit it? Her a Chicagoan and their ex-pat lifes took them to Zurich a year ago. They have since had a baby, who has more passports than a Great Train Robber, and it was great to catch up.
Tomorrow night is part II of Chicago Addick's
leaving do's. This time a mid-afternoon work finish to sit outside a riverfront bar in the sun with a few of the lads and ladettes.
And just a few days away from Euro 2008
. I am going to try to get it into it, I am but I can't promise though. My sporting diet is being taken up by the Stanley Cup
, the NBA finals
and the French Open
at the moment, although they could all be digested by the end of the weekend.