Chicago: TV! TV! Everywhere!

by Beal

On the rare occasion that I do get up off my couch and venture out into the real world, it’s hard for me not only to cope without the constant entertainment that the rectangle of moving colors and sounds provides, but also to see people and places outside the context of the small screen. Case and point, my most recent trip to Chicago.

I flew the 1.5 hour junket from D.C. on a sunny Thursday morning. About 10 minutes prior to our final decent I could notice the thickening of the suburbs outside my tiny window. Hmm, I bet if Lanford, IL were real, we’d probably be flying over it right about now. Guessing in my head that what I saw below me was far enough from the city, but close enough to Elgin to logistically be the official locale of the Conner family of Delaware Ave, Lanford, IL.


As the plane began its decline, my thoughts switched from the Conners, to the Winslows, because whatever neighborhood I was staring out at, had a lot of yellowish/brownish brick houses that looked pretty much exactly like Carl and Harriet’s. Not to mention my overwhelming urge to belt out “CHOOM CHU CHU CHU. . .

After de-planing (that is a real word, I think) I gathered my bags and followed signs to board the El Train, at which point I remembered the episode of ER in which Dr. Gant (Omar Epps) attempts suicide by jumping in front of the train. He is rushed to County General and when the unidentified victim’s beeper goes off, the doctors discover that they’re treating one of their own.

WaynesWld2_Still_PK_7864My primary reason for visiting Chicago was to attend Lollapalooza a three-day outdoor music festival, not unlike Waynestock, which technically took place in Aurora, and was technically a movie (based on a TV skit) but hey, close enough. Coincidentally, the last musical performance I witnessed involved Joe Perry from Aerosmith (in my case joining Jane’s Addiction) and after the credits rolled, I, like the Indian shed a tear for the amount of disgusting garbage that three days of partying on created.

IMG_3301After my three days at the festival, I spent a lovely Monday touring the city, and that’s when things got television-wise, way out of hand. I quick jaunt around downtown and I was inundated with more television references than I could handle. It was one thing when I walked past Wrigley Field on Saturday night, and thought, not fondly of an American pastime but, obviously, of Larry and Balki. But, when I saw this other Chicago landmark, I couldn’t figure out why I felt like I had been there before (and maybe I had) but mostly it’s because for eight years on TGIF, we saw those two Chicagoan cousins rushing off the train to patronize the arts.

After walking around downtown and enjoying the many other buildings and the skyline that both Perfect Strangers and Family Matters made feel important to me, I made my way down to the Art Institute of Chicago. I know what you’re thinking, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which although it’s a movie, I can talk about because it is, as I type, it is recording on my DVR. A perfect plan. I type ABOUT the movie, while it records enough of the program to allow me to fast-forward through all the commercials. Plus, I’ll get to revisit the museum, from the comfort of my davenport, allowing me to see the following gems once again.

212937_f520hb_67.231.1So, I was at first ashamed to admit that the when I first saw the Frank Lloyd Wright window, a stunning piece of design and architecture in its own right, all I could think of was D.J.’s side of the room on Full House, if only a George Michael poster were inlaid in front of it. I felt like much less of an idiot though, when after a little online research, I discovered that IN FACT D.J.’s wallpaper is based on a F.L.W. Picture 1window design and that I, although ignorant in origin of design, feel quite proud that I could recognize the similarities between two of Frank’s finer works.

iowa-american-gothic-grant-wood1And finally, no visit to the Art Institute of Chicago would be complete without a viewing of American Gothic, an American institution of its own. This is one of those images, that I’ve seen so many hundreds of time in my life, that seeing the REAL version was sort of a let down. Like, wow, my neighbor had that poster in college, it’s equally as powerful to view it now. Somehow though, through my disappointment I was able to see it in a whole new light. It’s at time’s like these that I really wish I had any kind of photoshop skills because when I saw American Gothic, all I really thought was, hey, that looks just like Joanna Kerns from Growing Pains and Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame. NEAT!


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