meep (meep) wrote,

Trip to Chicago: some pics

Recently, I went to Chicago for an actuarial conference. My slides aren't up yet, it seems, but I talked at Sessions 4 and 13.

I was staying at the Swissotel in the downtown loop, and I flew in via Southwest airlines to Midway (my first time flying Southwest - a lot more pleasant than I anticipated) and flew out via American Airlines from O'Hare (nice new tail paint, AA). To get from/to the airports, I used the subway/el and it was quite convenient, I thought. More convenient than trying to get to/from the major NYC airports at least (I flew out of Bradley airport in CT, though, as I had left after work). I never had to walk more than a half mile to get to a station. And the train rides themselves were smooth.

Anyway, for the very little time I had to walk, I took some pictures.

Ooooh Aaaaah Trump Tower

Why is Steve Carrell hanging out with Lincoln?

Evidently, I wasn't the only person to ask this:

SEPTEMBER 17, 2017 8:26 PM

Q: Could you please try to explain the new statue of Lincoln that I recently saw in Chicago? It sits on Michigan Avenue directly across from the Wrigley Building. I found no descriptive placard anywhere. Why is Lincoln talking to this man in an L.L. Bean sweater and chinos? Abe appears to be perhaps signaling his Uber driver with his stovepipe hat. Meanwhile, Mr. L.L. Bean looks like a bass in a Lutheran church choir, holding the Rutter “Gloria.” That’s my reading, but what brings them together? Maybe we’ll never know.


A: Yes, you will, and, honest Abe, maybe Paula Stoeke’s interpretation can quash your grumblings. As a matter of fact, she may even have you throwing your own hat in the air in celebration the next time you see it.

The statue in question is called “Return Visit,” and it was done by 87-year-old Seward Johnson, the same artist who gave Chicago the “Forever Marilyn” statue of Marilyn Monroe in 2011 and the “God Bless America” sculpture in 2008 with its larger-than-life figures of the farmer and his wife from Grant Wood’s beloved 1930 “American Gothic” painting.

This time, Seward does a little time traveling, transporting one of the nation’s most revered presidents into the modern era to meet perhaps a Gen Xer dressed in beige corduroy pants, sneakers and a cream-colored cable-knit sweater. Rather than the Rutter showpiece, the modern man is holding a copy of a speech that Lincoln didn’t expect to be long remembered after he delivered it on Nov. 19, 1863 — the Gettysburg Address.

It’s meant to show Lincoln “explaining the tenets of the Gettysburg Address and what relevancy those words would have today,” Stoeke, the curator at the Seward Johnson Atelier in California, told the Chicago Tribune. A smaller version sculpted by Johnson can be found near the historic David Wills House in Gettysburg, Pa. In that work, you can see Lincoln raising his hat to point at the window of the room where he had stayed the night before he delivered his speech at the Soldiers National Cemetery.

As further testament to its potential relevance to today’s world, the 25-foot-tall statue of Lincoln was hoisted into place last Nov. 1 just one week before the presidential election that continues to reverberate throughout the country. Paul Zeller, CEO of Zeller Realty Group, hoped the new statue would raise the level of political discourse in the city, if not the country. His company owns Pioneer Court, where the piece was installed.

“We’ve had a very vigorously contested election environment this year,” Zeller said at the time. “We thought bringing Honest Abe back at this time in the final days of this dialogue we call the campaign might remind people that one of the most fundamental things we should be striving for is honesty in our political dialogue, in our exchange, in our debate, as opposed to criticism of each other.”

Maybe now you’ll now have different feelings if you see it again. Search for both the installation and the original at

The only thing I thought was that it was appropriate such a tacky piece of "art" was in Chicago.

Also, that the be-sweatered guy was Steve Carrell.

Evidently my timing was perfect, as the sculpture was taken down and is now in Peoria.

My family is into kefir. I didn't know there were smoothie shops for it.

Anyway, that was Chicago. It's not New York. Or even San Francisco. It just seems to try too hard. That canal through the middle... what the hell is that ugly thing. Makes sense that they turn it bright green every year - probably never gets more appealing than that.

And don't get me started about the cheese pies they call pizza there......


Anyway, yes, I'm a New Yorker. And the Second City... well, for getting to/from the airports to downtown, I'll give them that. First city is Denver on that score.

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