Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Twin towers

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A cool stage and a close shave

Springsteen WrigleyOn Friday, we headed up to Chicago to meet with family and friends for the Bruce Springsteen concert at Wrigley Field.

We were staying at the Palmer House, and after a slight mix-up with our check-in (resolved fairly easily), we got settled quickly. I thought I had stayed at the Palmer House on visits in the past, but apparently not. It’s a beautiful hotel, built 1923-1925, with an architectural Beaux Art style; I think it also has elements of the ‘20s Art Deco style. The Palmer House is on the National Register of Historic Places, and deservedly so!

We hadn’t eaten anything all day, so we decided to go down to the hotel lounge and have a bite to eat and a cool beverage. I was texting with our niece Jen, and she said her and her Dad and my sister (Tom and Diana, for future reference) were heading out to see the Bean at Millennium Park, and did we want to go? I said we really needed to grab something to eat, and they stopped by to say hi. Well, they decided to have a drink, too, then we all got to talking and laughing, then our friends Tom and Paula got there, so we talked and laughed some more, and then it was too late for them to go check out the Bean. They decided to go the next morning, but that was when we had to leave, so I STILL have not seen the Bean! I think we’ll have to do a Chicago weekend next year. It’s been far too long.

Rahm SchnitzelAnyway, after our fun, we headed back up to our rooms to get ready to head out to dinner and then the concert. We had decided on the Berghoff, which has been around for a while (after a brief hiatus). I remember going there in high school when my high school German club took a field trip! I think that time I had the sauerbraten, but this time I went with the schnitzel. When I saw it on the menu, I couldn’t resist the Rahm Schnitzel, which had a light sour cream/tomato sauce. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that it’s named after Chicago mayor and my political crush, Rahm Emanuel. It was delicious! Very tender, with a nice crispy coating, and the sauce gave a bit of tangy smoothness to it. Ausgezeichnet!

Then it was time to make our way over to the subway to head to Wrigleyville. No major problems getting there, or getting into Wrigley Field (other than having to leave our umbrella at the entrance...amazingly enough, it was still there waiting when we got out!). Our seats were great, a few rows up from the field, behind one of the dugouts, so we had a straight-on view of the stage. The show started about an hour late, so we were primed and ready to rock.

Now, let me preface my remarks with telling you that although I’ve always liked Bruce, and have gotten a few of his albums over the years, I’ve never been a super fan. I think he’s a great American artist, but one of those that I just wasn’t all totally into over the years. I’ve read that his concerts are major experiences, but I had to find out for myself. (Among the ten of us that went, only our nephew Rey had been to one of his shows before.)

Beth and Jen SpringsteenWell, consider me a believer now. He played for about 3½ hours, and it went by so quickly. I thought I might get antsy during such a long concert, but I was having such a good time that it just flew by! I didn’t know every song that he played, but I recognized most of them. I got his latest album, “Wrecking Ball,” a while back, and I recognized most of those songs. (One of my new favorites is “We Take Care of Our Own,” which I think is what we’re supposed to do in our country, and it was played at the Democratic Convention.) So many of his songs are iconic, and it was so much fun to sing along with all those people in Wrigley Field! There were a couple of special guests, including Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine (Rey and Jen and I were like “Ohmanit’sTomMorello!”) and Chicago native Eddie Vedder. Very cool. Also cool to see Steven Van Zandt playing, because there was some speculation that he might be off doing something else. Not a chance! Oh, and Jake Clemons, nephew of Clarence, did a fine job on sax, replacing his uncle. There was a very touching tribute to Clarence.

It wasn’t until towards the end that they played “Born to Run,” and I’m telling you, I’m verklempt just thinking about it. We were all belting out “Tramps like us, baby we were born to run!” and jumping up and down. The final song was “Twist and Shout,” and I will never forget 40,000+ people singing that song and dancing. You know that part where you sing “Ahh...Ahhhh...Ahhhhhh...AHHHHH!”, going up the octave...by the time we got to the last “AHHHHH!” we were all jumping up and down and waving our arms around. Haha!

It’s hard to explain how this made me feel, but I’ll try. It was a sort of communal experience that made me feel so much joy. First of all, we were all at Wrigley Field, which is an American icon, whether you like the Cubs or not. Secondly, Bruce was just playing his heart out for us all. You have to respect that sort of work ethic, and the band was just incredible, as was the sound. (Max Weinberg...damn, man! Amazing drumming!) Thirdly, even a casual fan knows so many of these songs and can appreciate how well-crafted they are, and the amazing, populist lyrics. Finally, it was just so...JOYFUL. I honestly don’t know how else to describe it. For a few hours, you were taken to a place where everyone loves each other and just rocks out and has fun. Those 40,000+ people with me in Wrigley Field were experiencing the same thing, and it was just an odd feeling of community that I’m not sure I’ve ever felt on such a grand scale before. Does that make any sense? It rocketed up to one of the top five concerts of my life. (I’ll have to work on that list...the Stones concert I saw is probably #1.) Rey sent me a link of a great picture posted by a Springsteen roadie. This is what Bruce was looking at while playing. I hope he saw me cheering! Haha! You can see a short review and Springsteen's Wrigley Field show set list here.

Notre Dame vs Purdue Irish GuardWe made our way back to the hotel via the subway again, and after winding down a bit, just crashed. Whew! Ken and I were off early the next morning, because we had tickets for the Notre Dame home opener against Purdue. No time to head home before the game, but we parked and grabbed a bite at our usual pre-game place if we aren’t tailgating. It was a gorgeous day for football, not too warm, and a few clouds to give us a break from the rather intense sun. It was a bit of a nail-biter, with Purdue coming back to tie it in the last couple of minutes, and ND kicking the game-winning field goal in the last seconds. Good grief, ND! Stop giving me heart attacks! We had some great seats, just a few rows up from the field, behind the ND band and directly behind the flag pole. So we got to see the Irish Guard raise the flag. Very cool.

Today, I’m happy to just veg out. Ken will head out and mow the lawn soon (after the Bears-Colts game...Colts are losing, arghhh), and then he’s excited to start his new job tomorrow.

What a fun weekend! I hope yours was and is as pleasant!