Haute Couture at the Chicago History Museum

Main Rousseau Bocher | Photographer unknown, 1939; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library.
Main Rousseau Bocher | Photographer unknown, 1939; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Irene Lewisohn Costume Reference Library.

On display through August, 2017, the Chicago History Museum’s newest exhibit, Making Mainbocher, is a peek at the life and work of Main Rousseau Bocher, an American fashion designer with significant ties to the Windy City.

Main Bocher grew up on the city’s West Side, attending John Marshall High School and the Lewis Institute (now Illinois Institute of Technology). The majority of his career, however, was spent in New York or Paris, where in 1929 Main Bocher would become “the first American courturier” under the label – and conveniently French looking name – Mainbocher. Continue reading

Dear Lincoln Park Conservatory: I’m sorry I ignored you for 15 years…

Most days I feel comfortable saying that I’ve seen pretty much everything my home city has to offer. I’ve been to the tourist traps and the holes-in-the-walls. I’ve ventured to all corners of the city, and after 15 years in Chicago I thought I’d pretty much nailed down what to do and what not to do here.

But then I went to Lincoln Park Conservatory.

I have no idea why I’ve never been there.

It was a stupid cold and sleeting winter day in spring (read: late March in Chicago) and the weather threw a monkey-wrench in a scheduled pre-wedding “Meeting of the Moms.” In searching for indoor, get to know you activities, the conservatory seemed like a great alternative to window shopping in Andersonville, because moms like flowers, right?

Right. Continue reading

Reasons I love Edgewater: Brunch and a $27 Subaru

I’ve spent about 5 years living in the Edgewater neighborhood (split between two tours), and I’m starting to think that this is the place I belong.

Love it or leave it, Edgewater is as strange as I am, which might be why we get along so well.

Unpretentious and often bizarre, “the edge”, as our silly lamp post neighborhood banners say, is the sort of neighborhood tumblr_muz19rIelV1qmywbko1_500where you can eat really fancy, really expensive ice cream on one block, and get shot on the next.  Yeah. We live on “the edge”.

Whatever.

All I know, is that this past Sunday was kind of a pivotal moment for me.  The GF and I have been scouting this tiny diner two blocks from our house for the past several months.  You know the type… the decor hasn’t been updated since 1963, and you’re pretty sure the food is going to be the best thing ever or the worst thing ever.

Sunday was the day we finally bit the bullet and went to Alexander’s for breakfast. I’ve never seen waitresses that good. My omelette was the size of my ass. The coffee was free-flowing. You get half a banana as a garnish, and homemade salsa on the side. Alexander’s was everything I hoped it could be, but I’m a little afraid to admit it lest you start going there too. I want Alexander’s to be my little secret. A place where we can walk to on a Sunday and always get a table, and always have fantastic service. Please don’t change, Alexander’s. You haven’t changed since 1963, so there’s no reason to start now…

… and then on the way home we came across a $27 Subaru.

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Yeah. That’s my ‘hood. We are a match made in heaven.

Nothing Says Thanksgiving Like Cleaning Up Horse Poo

2011 Audience3Most families sleep in, have brunch, and, in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago, flip back and forth between the Macy’s parade and the McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade.  This was my routine growing up, and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m still figuring out what my Thanksgiving traditions look like in adult life.  I don’t live in the suburbs, I don’t have kids… I generally still go to my Mommy’s house for all the trimmings and a half-hearted attempt to enjoy football.

That leaves the morning free to establish a T-Day tradition of my own, and maybe it should be this:

The McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade is seeking volunteers to participate in its 80th trip down State Street.  Various roles are available, including Balloon Handlers, Route Marshals, Tech Crew, Hospitality, and Poo Crew.

You heard me right. Poo Crew.

You know all those horses in the parade? Somebody’s got to clean up after them.

Who’s with me?!?

Volunteer applications for the 80th annual McDonald’s Thanksgiving Parade will be accepted through October 18, 2013.  For more information or to apply for the Poo Crew, visit http://www.chicagofestivals.org/volunteer.  All volunteers are required to attend Parade School at the Museum of Science and Industry (5700 S. Lake Shore Drive) Saturday, November 9, 9 am.  General admission to the museum is free to Parade School attendees for the rest of the day.

The Fanciest Bathroom I’ve Ever Seen

Every once in awhile, it’s fun to schmooze downtown at a fancy place – the sort of place where you might go hang out as a tourist.  Last weekend, the GF and I got an opportunity to meet up with some friends at the Radisson Blu hotel bar before a dance performance at the Harris Theater.  The bar was fancy enough, but the bathroom was out of this world.  We all decided it was like being inside a disco ball. I wouldn’t want to be the guy that placed all those individual mirrored tiles (and, let’s be honest, it doesn’t make for the most flattering image).

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But wait, there’s something else!  The toilets are named after my guilty pleasure band.

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Recipe for the Perfect Picnic

Brie.

Grapes.

Italian bread.

Wine. Red.

Add a little greenery, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a bumpin’ twitter feed and a few thousand of my closest friends, and this is the making of a beautiful evening.  

People do it up right at The Ravinia Festival.

There’s the mad dash from the gate. The in-fighting over the shaded spots close to the Pavilion.  The pop up tables, real crystal, and vases of flowers.  Everything you’ve heard about Ravinia is true.  It’s at times chaotic and dripping with wealth, but the North Shore folks in khaki pants and claustrophobic lawn quickly fade away once the music kicks in.  You settle into your bottle of wine, gaze up at the trees, and all your worries melt away. 

For just ten bucks, you can sit in the most beautiful back yard in the tri-county area and hear some of the best musicians in the world.  This particular Sunday it happened to be Idina Menzel with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.  Admittedly sniffly, and suprisingly crass, that bitch can sing.

What a glorious way to spend a summer evening. 

Lauren relaxing on the lawn at Ravinia Festival

True confessions of a bike commuter: Francesca Bourgault

It’s time again for another bike commuter…. today features the lovely Francesca Bourgault, the cheeriest lighting designer I ever did meet:

Francesca Bourgault is a lighting designer, technical director, dance teacher and crafter that bops around town constantly. The only regular parts of her schedule are the 4 tot dance classes I teach each week at Chase Park for Design Dance. In the evenings she design for enough dance companies that she’s always somewhere different and always trying to remember how to get there. When gear needs to be shuttled or the commute is too far, she drives, but only then does she leave her funked up bike locked at home.

Where do you live? The southeast corner of Ravenswood [a North-side Chicago neighborhood]

How long is your commute? Depending on the gig, it can be anywhere from a mile to 8 each way. If I get called to Oak Park, however, I typically choose to drive since it’s super far and usually a late night rehearsal or tech crew call.

from Red Dress Run on the 4th of July 2009. Francesca uses her bike for exercise and dressing up in addition to commuting.

What kind of bike do you ride?  Ha! My poor bike was probably stolen before it got to me. On Craig’s List it was labeled Arctic in color, purple and white. It’s had a lot of adjustments including a trade from Ram’s horn to straight handlebars and from green brake and gear lines to silver. I think it can be considered a hybrid but who knows anymore.

Do you wear work clothes on your bike, or wear bike clothes and change at work? Almost always I will bike in work clothes. The only exception is if I want to wear cute shoes for a show; then it’s all about the sneakers or boots for the commute.

How do you carry your stuff? Paniers? Messenger bag? Milk Crate? My partner donated a sweet, white basket to my cause that goes on my handlebars. I also have a rack on the back with bungee netting that holds the leftovers. Sometimes I even add my backpack but mostly I find a way to leave something at home if it seems like that may be necessary.

Fair-weather rider? The only things I won’t ride through are the slushy stuff on the side of the road and ice. I hate ice and have fallen on it too many times. My tires are not good for that sort of thing and I don’t trust my unbalanced bike.

Scariest moment on the bike: I don’t usually run into any funny business but recently, in Wrigleyville, of course, I got slowly cut off by a cab. Slowly meaning that he almost wasn’t past me when he started veering into the bike lane then off the road. He got a swift smack to the window for that one. No turn signal or anything. Sheesh! I must say that I’m pretty lucky for not having been doored ever or gotten thrown off by any humungous pot holes.

Tips for new riders: Make yourself do it. It’s easy to get into the habit of taking the bus/train or driving “because it’s easier” but in the end, it’s really not. It takes so much less time both in transit and pre/post ride due to parking plus the boost from cardio is a benefit we all can use.

Why you ride: I hate driving and parking and definitely hate missing the bus. My bike is so convenient and reminds me to move when I would otherwise be sedentary most of the day.

If you are a bike commuter and would like to be featured in this series, please send an email to lauren@artintercepts.org for consideration.  Thanks!