Whenever we go to Chicago we always say we should stay for longer than a day because there is so much to see. But then we never do. Oh well.
This time we found ourselves driving home in a torrential downpour and not getting back to Ann Arbor until after 4am. While darkness and heavy rain are not ideal for driving, it may have been a good thing for keeping us both alert so we didn't drive off the road. I was still tempted to drive off the road several times to end some of the conversations Megan was trying to have with me after she broke the radio. Not really, but she did keep slapping me in the face and saying "Oh I'm sorry, I thought you were falling asleep". This may have been because I would swerve and shout "Ahhh! we're going to die!" every time she started to doze off.
We went to Chicago to visit our friends Geoff and Cheryl, and their friends Victor and Jalila. While there, we could have gone to one of the many great museums but instead we chose to go to the "American Girl" doll store. This is a multi-level store devoted exclusively to dolls, offering doll haircuts, a doll hospital, all the plastic doll accessories you could not want, and more. It's actually a pretty thought provoking store though, it makes you wonder...
Outside the store you have homeless people begging for change and inside the store you have people blowing money on haircuts and plastic food for dolls. Imagine this scenario:
Homeless guy: "Can you spare some change?"
Little girl: "NO, I JUST SPENT IT ON MY DOLL'S HAIRCUT LOL, ISN'T SHE PRETTY?"
Homeless guy: "OIC"
Money, and the spending of it, is not really that simple though, is it. You could scoff at a celebrity for wasting $3,000 on a diaper bag while there are people starving in Africa, or you could think, hey, that $3,000 is going to some company who will then distribute it to their employees, unfairly, and thus, it is not really wasted, it is just transferred to others who can then spend it again. Money doesn't disappear, it just goes from one pocket to another until it all ends up with the oil company executives.
So while you could say "hey, how can you be so self-absorbed that you are willing to waste money getting your doll a haircut while there are homeless people on the street", if we all gave our excess money to the homeless we wouldn't be purchasing as many goods and thus, we would probably put a lot of other companies/people out of work until we were all jobless. This is any democrat's wet dream but a good republican would tell you how unfortunate it would be if people didn't have the opportunity to work multiple minimum wage jobs just to survive. Our president knows this, as evidenced by him praising a woman with a sick child for working 3 jobs to make ends meet as "uniquely American". Isn't it great that in America you can slave away at 3 jobs just to provide your child with healthcare? Shouldn't all countries be striving for this? I know you could argue that America is great because the woman had the opportunity to work many jobs and get the healthcare her kid needed. If she lived in some impoverished country like Cuba, she wouldn't have this option, the healthcare would just be free. These sorts of arguments could go in circles indefinitely.
What is certain though, is that the dolls result in the consumption of physical materials, and in effect, contribute to global warming. This is why I think I was completely justified in telling a happy little girl who just bought a doll that she just indirectly killed a baby chinstrap penguin.
Geoff seemed amazed by it all and kept saying "these are so much cheaper than real dolls", whatever that means. Geoff, it doesn't get any more real or genuine than an "American Girl" doll (made in China). Anyway, I'm not saying I love communism or anything and I realize that we all pretty much live in excess in this country, and that's fine, life wouldn't be too fun if we only did things out of absolute necessity, but the American Girl store exudes an "over the top consumerism" aura that may be unparalleled. I think the real problem, and Geoff may disagree with me here, is that dolls are just dumb. Yeah, so anyway, we bought a couple dolls and headed on our way, they are too cute to resist!
The view from the Signature Lounge on the 95th floor of the John Hancock building on a rainy day.
Left: The Water Tower. Right: A tall skinny building. I'm pretty sure those turquoise rectangles on some of the building tops are swimming pools.
Dinner at 1000 feet (95th floor of the John Hancock building). Through the window is Lake Michigan, the small pointy white thing near center is a sailboat. We just had drinks.
The Oriental Theater, where we saw "Wicked", a Broadway show about how the wicked witch of the west is actually pretty nice and regularly donates to many child charities.
Top: Megan outside the Grand Lux Cafe. Bottom: Buckingham fountain. Right: Michigan Ave from above.
To get to Chicago from Ann Arbor you generally pass through the very industrial city of Gary, Indiana. Not a place I'd want to live, but it's interesting to drive through. These are some horrible pictures from the car, there are many more smoke stacks, power lines, and factories to be seen in person.
» all photo reports from illinois
August 18, 2007
Visiting friends, seeing the city from the John Hancock building, and catching a Broadway show.
Starved Rock, Illinois
October 23, 2006
Checking out Starved Rock State Park, an area of small canyons and cliffs along the Illinois River.
Indiana Dunes & Chicago
October 27 - 28, 2007
Checking out Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, and doing some fine dining in Chicago.
October 23, 2006
Checking out the city from the Sears Tower, and strolling through Millenium Park.
December 30, 2005
A day in Chicago, mainly checking out Millenium Park and the Art Institute.