Tag Archives: USA

WEEKLY PHOTO CHALLENGE: RENEWAL – bravo, fake Chicago!

Another elegant Chicago building, I thought. Then I looked more closely.
I think the car is real, but everything else…

I thought this looked interesting. I looked again. I crossed the street. It was extraordinary.

LaSalle Towers, at 1211 North LaSalle Street, Chicago, was a nondescript high rise hotel until artist Richard Haas got to work on it in 1980. Continue reading

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CHICAGO’S THEATRE SCENE – better than Broadway?

Chicago Shakespeare Theater – high arts in the bearpit.


Two young performers are on stage in Chicago’s comedy mecca The Second City. She’s white. He’s African American.

HE: I thought we were soul-mates, but now I find out you watch Fox News! (Laugh from audience)
SHE: There’s an election coming. We ought to be informed.
HE: I don’t have to be informed, I’m black. (Big laugh) I mean, I’m black, Obama’s black. The choice is obvious.
SHE: Oh? So why not vote Republican? Mitt Romney loves Jesus, black people love Jesus…
HE: That’s a totally different Jesus! (Huge laugh)

It’s edgy stuff, and to visitors like us it reveals the city’s zeitgeist. The performers are excellent, and we’re thinking, ‘I wonder if they’ll make it in film or TV some day?’ They may be thinking the same thing.

It can’t be easy being an artist in Chicago. No sooner do you get a start here than you’re tempted to move east or west. Continue reading

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NEW YORK – is the Bronx going soft?

Maybe I’d fit in here if I got myself a tat or two.


Getting lost in the South Bronx is no picnic.

You get what you pay for with those phone apps and my downloadable New York tourist map cost less than a dollar. My cheap app decided the Bronx didn’t count as New York, as if nothing north of Manhattan could be of interest to cheapskates.

So shortly after the D Train crossed the Harlem River my phone’s screen went blank and left me mapless. Continue reading

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WALDORF ASTORIA – five stars in sensible shoes

Please wipe your feet before entering.

Do other people worry that they will feel awkward and inadequate in high class hotels? Or is it just me?

Mevrouw T and I generally travel on a tight budget, so we rarely see how the 1% live when on the road.  Is it a treat or an ordeal to join them for a day or two?

Here’s my report on our recent five star Chicago experience… Continue reading

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LOWER EAST SIDE – Tenement Museum, New York

There’s still a little edge to New York’s Lower East Side, though tourists come to see it now.


There were some rude shocks for landlords in New York’s 1901 legislation. Fire escapes were to be made of metal, not wood. Each room had to have a window. A minimum of one toilet per two families was to be provided.

After unsuccessfully fighting the new laws in the courts, many slum landlords chucked it in the too hard basket, evicted their tenants, boarded up their tenements and invested their money elsewhere.

In 1988 Ruth Abrams and Anita Jacobson found 97 Orchard St in original condition, and set about turning it into a museum. Anyone with the slightest interest in America’s immigrant history should be very grateful to them. Continue reading

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CLOUD GATE – Anish Kapoor’s ‘bean’ identifies Chicago

Artist Anish Kapoor reportedly hates the nickname, but it’s likely to stick.

It’s not easy to create an icon for a city, but Indian born British artist Anish Kapoor has done it for Chicago.

His giant chrome sculpture Cloud Gate, constructed between 2004-2006, is fast becoming the most instantly identifiable symbol of the town. No longer just the city of Al Capone, Frank Lloyd Wright and Barak Obama, Chicago is becoming the city of the Big Shiny Bean.

I’d seen a lot of photos of this work, but nothing does it justice. Like Ayers Rock/Uluru, you have to see it up close to understand how extraordinary it is. Continue reading

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