In 1999, Japanese scientist Dr. Masaru Emoto did a series of experiments where he would tape positive / negative words on bottles of water and then photograph the crystals under a microscope. The water stamped with positive words formed perfect snowflake crystals, and the water with negative words were disjointed and fractured. How is this possible? If you believe in the abstract concepts of energy transference and neuro-linguistic programming, which I do, then this makes sense to you. This phenomenon may also explain how love can go in to food and how emotion can go in to art.
We got to the Art Institute of Chicago at 10:30 AM to be greeted by a giant line. We already had our tickets so we asked a security guard out front and he said, “I don’t know why y’all are waiting, go straight through there.” He pointed to the members entrance and we walked directly into the museum. Jonathon and I split up so we could explore at our own pace.
Since it was a Saturday, the museum was full of people that didn’t necessarily appreciate art, as much as wanted to document that they were there (i.e. the selfie stick crowd). For my thoughts on this, here’s an excerpt from one of my favorite pieces that I’ve ever written, Day 121 of my trip through South America and France:
"The first Sunday every month in Paris is free museum day. He thought it great because it would bring art to the masses, but he knew it would also draw those that normally wouldn't pay to go to a museum. Standing in line for the Musee de l'orangerie in front of him was a stylish Japanese couple, and behind an American family with "I Heart Paris" t-shirts discussing how Impressionism "doesn't represent good Christian values." He could have joined in on the conversation, but the last thing he wanted to do was meet more Americans. Besides, maybe they were right. He knew just as much about art as he knew about wine, a lot less than he would like people to think he knew; but he was smart enough to know that you didn't have to understand art in order to respect it."
While Grant Wood’s “American Gothic” wasn’t affecting, I imprinted with Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte,” but especially with Edward Hopper’s “Nighthawks.” What was that man sitting by himself thinking? Why was he so sad? Why is that couple so distant?
Downstairs in the photography exhibit I noticed a couple sitting oddly on a bench. I continued on my way then noticed security calling a “code 4” and bringing over an AED. The man said the word “chest pain” and I went over to talk to them and made sure Chicago paramedics were en route. Non-radiating chest “tightness” 1/10 on the pain scale x 6 hours with symptoms identical to a month prior when he had a myocardial infarction. Without my tools, ECG, or medications, the only thing I could do was talk to the man and his wife, which in emergency situations is precisely what people need the most. When I was a rookie paramedic I was such an impatient asshole, and it took me years to work on my “bedside manner,” but that’s expected from a rookie at anything in life – rarely do we come “out of the box” as perfect humans. Chicago Fire took over and carted him off and I went back to looking at the art.
We took the train to Pequod’s Pizza for one of the city’s best deep dish pizzas famous for having a caramelized crust. I was sent there by my friend, native Chicagoan Kelly Daly, and our Uber driver from the night before. He said Pequod’s doesn’t wash their cast-iron pans and “they put them in a safe every night.” I didn’t look up if this is true, because I didn’t want to ruin the magic -- I hope it’s true.
If you believe in “gestalt” with pizza then this is why New York pizza will always be better than California pizza. As pointed out by Joe Brown in Why New York City’s Pizza is So Tough to Replicate,
"As you cook, some ingredients vaporize, and these volatilized particles can attach themselves to the walls of the baking cavity,"..."The next time you use the oven, these bits get caught up in the convection currents and deposited on the food, which adds flavor." Over time, he says, more particles join the mix and mingle with the savory soot from burned wood or coal — the only fuels worth using — to create a flavor that you can't grow in a garden: gestalt, if you will.
This basically means the older the oven, the better the pizza. You win Pepe’s Pizza in New Haven, Connecticut.
Pequod’s Pizza with homemade sausage was on point, especially with the crust.
At night, Jonathon and I split up and I went for a jog down to Navy Pier. I sat for a while at “the bean” in Millenium Park and watched everyone laughing at the distorted images of themselves and taking jumping photos. Earlier in the day the park was packed with laughing families and we saw at least five couples taking wedding photos. When I got down to Navy Pier, I was covered in sweat from the Midwest humidity so I decided to completely cancel out that exercise by getting a Goose Island 312 beer.
Navy Pier is Chicago’s “most visited attraction” according to my Lonely Planet guidebook and your response to this will be either “why, it’s just a bunch of carnival rides and chain restaurants on a pier,” or “look at all of these people from around the world coming to see this place.” I chose the latter and watched all of the couples from Wisconsin that drove in for the weekend, various cholos on dates, and my favorite, a woman in a burka with a Cubs jersey over it. The place had so much happy energy that you almost didn't notice that they were playing Christmas music from Ariana Grande.
I jogged back down Michigan Ave towards my hotel content with my Saturday.