About the Town in October




By Philip Vidal


“There’s no place like home.”  Dorothy’s famous words from “The Wizard of Oz” ring true.  I was in San Francisco last month.  Like Chicago, San Francisco is a city of neighborhoods, with great restaurants and a vibrant cultural scene.  But after tackling the very steep Filbert Steps, Greenwich Steps and Nob Hill, I am glad to be back in our very flat city, where even the gentle rise along Randolph and Lake Streets east of Michigan Avenue sometimes leaves me winded.  WTTW will feature one of Chicago’s neighborhoods in a documentary “My Neighborhood: Pilsen” on October 5.

A mural in the Pilsen neighborhood.

In reviewing my calendar, August was slow compared to September, and in October everything goes into high-gear.  October also includes three family birthdays, all exactly one week apart.  In years past, everyone’s birthday was recorded, and I am sure that my family would be horrified if I were to bring any of our family films to Chicago Home Movie Day 2017, presented by the Chicago Film Archives and the Chicago Film Society.  But if you are game, bring your 16mm, 8mm and Super 8 home movies to the Chicago History Museum on October 7 and they will be projected for free.  If you want to see how the pros do it, attend the 53rd annual Chicago International Film Festival, October 12-26.  Founder Michael Kutza is being succeeded by Evanston native Mimi Plauche as artistic director.

Another celebrated festival is The Chicago Humanities Festival’s FallFest/17. This year’s theme is “Belief.” The kick-off event is October 16.  The main festival runs October 28-Nov 12.  Just a few of the top-notch speakers are environmentalist and former Vice President Al Gore, playwright Tony Kushner, and the architects of the Obama Presidential Library, Billie Tsien and Tod Williams.

The Chicago Cultural Alliance will launch “Inherit Chicago”, the city’s first intercultural festival. Thirty cultural centers and heritage museums collaborated to produce programs in twenty neighborhoods,  October 1-29. The festival kicks off with “World Dumpling Festival” on October 7 at Millennium Park’s Chase South Promenade.

The new Apple store designed by London-based architects Foster+Partners is slated to open on October 20 at Michigan Avenue along the Chicago River, but as anyone who has gone through construction or a renovation project knows, deadlines can be illusory.  The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago is your chance to poke your nose into and peruse over 200 buildings around town, October 14-15.

The Elks National Memorial in Lincoln Park, just one of over 200 buildings to visit during The Chicago Architecture Foundation’s Open House Chicago.

I was in London on 9/11.  My hotel was on Carlos Place, just a block from the U.S. embassy on Grosvenor Square in Mayfair.  The next day I remember joining a group that had set up a makeshift memorial in front of the embassy.  I plan to attend “Architect Talk: Designing for Diplomacy with James Timberlake” on October 16 at the Chicago Architecture Foundation to hear about the new U.S. embassy, which will be across town, on the south bank of the Thames. I intend to check out the progress at the new embassy when I attend Asian Art in London with a group from the Art Institute’s Asian Art Council in early November.

One year, now long ago, I must have been very good because I received The Complete Cartoons of The New Yorker for Christmas.  I want to take another look at “Along the Lines: Selected Drawings by Saul Steinberg” in the Jean and Steven Goldman Prints and Drawings Galleries at the Art Institute of Chicago before the show closes on October 29.  Steinberg’s witty work at The New Yorker spanned sixty years and appeared in other publications such as Town & Country.  One of his most famous works is the very Manhattan-centric “View of the World from 9th Avenue.”

Steinberg’s “View of the World from 9th Avenue.”

The Jean Goldman Book Prize will be presented at the fifth annual School of the Art Institute (SAIC) Literary Lions Luncheon at a private club in Streeterville on October 11.   The prize is given to a SAIC faculty member. This year’s winner is Magdalena Moskalewicz.  Martha Tedeschi, The Elizabeth and John Moors Cabot Director of the Harvard Art Museums (former deputy director for art and research at the Art Institute), is the guest speaker.  Proceeds support the SAIC Literary Lions Fund which awards research grants to SAIC faculty members. Call 312-499-4190 or contact saicevents@saic.edu for tickets and information.

That evening, Dave Eggers, a native of the Chicago area, and Margaret Atwood will receive the 2017 Carl Sandburg Literary Award at the Forum at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

I attended the opening party of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts at the University of Chicago.  It is hard to believe that was five years ago.  The community-wide Logan Five Year Bash is October 7. The inaugural Logan Center Bluesfest is October 13-15.

Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio will perform at the Logan Center Bluesfest on October 13.

One of the musical highlights at the Harris Theater for Music and Dance this month is Monteverdi 450, which marks the 450th birthday of Claudio Monteverdi, the father of opera.  The English Baroque Soloists and Monteverdi Choir perform his three existing operas:

“L’Orfeo” on October 12;

“Il Ritorno d’Ulisse in Patria” on October 13;

“L’Incoronazione di Poppea” on October 15.

One of the dance highlights at the Harris will be Visceral Dance Chicago’s performance on October 7 with new works from artistic director Nick Pupillo and Princess Grace Choreography Fellowship Recipient Danielle Agami.

As I am writing this, Chicago is in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, and I look forward to cooler, crisper weather in October and the change of seasons.  My parents had friends who had a second home in Parke County, Indiana, and they were often invited down during the fall. The Parke County Covered Bridge Festival is October 13-22, which should be the perfect time to admire the fall foliage.

Explore the communities of Parke County during the Covered Bridge Festival.

Prior to the heat wave, I thought the outdoor music season was over, but there is a free classical music concert, “The Line-Up,” on October 8 at the Park at Wrigley that will include musicians from the Lyric Opera, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Civic Orchestra of Chicago and the Northwestern University Bienen School of Music.

Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with one of the many events around Chicago.  The 12th annual Latino Music Festival at various locations around the city is October 12-November 19. The inaugural, city-wide “Destinos: Chicago International Latino Theater Festival” runs September 29-October 29.  Highlights include:

  • Puerto Rico’s ArteBoricua performs “Medea” at Steppenwolf 1700 Theatre, October 5-8;
  • Mexico’s Teatro Linea de Sombra performs “Amarillo” about an immigrant’s journey. Performed in Spanish with projected English supertitles at Chicago Shakespeare Theater’s The Yard, October 17-29.
  • Chicago’s Urban Theater performs Marco Antonio Rodriquez’ “Ashes of Light” set on Chicago’s North Side, at Victory Garden Theater, October 19-22.

Planes, trains and automobiles…

I was sad to read that the last United Airlines flight using a Boeing 747 will likely be this month, certainly by the end of the year.  I flew in the upper deck only once, on a flight from Paris to Chicago on Air France.  I saw a couple of 747s at the San Francisco International Airport in late September and also saw my first double-decker Airbus A380 there.

My first flight was in the early 60s on Trans World Airlines to Philadelphia to visit relatives.  The stewardess, as they were called at that time, gave me my wings — a TWA pin. I still have my wings, but as they are metal with a long pin.  I probably couldn’t bring them on a plane today.

I highly recommend the documentary “In Transit,” set aboard Amtrak’s Chicago to Seattle “Empire Builder.”  Albert Maysles’ (Grey Gardens, Iris) last film, showing at the Gene Siskel Film Center through October 5, is a quiet film, but I found each of the passengers’ stories really poignant.

I enjoy watching the Mecum car auctions on TV.  Porches, Packards and Pintos are pushed onto the auction block.  The real thing, Mecum Chicago Auction, will be at the Schaumburg Convention Center, October 5-7.

Mummies, vampires, werewolves…Halloween must be approaching.

The Oriental Institute’s exhibition “The Book of the Dead: Becoming God in Ancient Egypt,” featuring rarely exhibited scrolls with spells for the afterlife, opens October 3.  The Hypocrites’ production of “Dracula” will be at the Mercury Theater Chicago, October 7-November 5. The world-premiere of Joseph Zettelmaier’s “The Man-Beast” about a werewolf in 18th century France runs October 4-November 5 at First Folio Theatre, Mayslake Peabody Estate, Oak Brook.  But for something that has to be really scary, check out what happens when you mix Rocky Balboa with Rocky from the Rocky Horror Picture Show at Corn Productions’ “The Rocky Balboa Picture Show,” Conservatory, September 29-October 31.  Happy Halloween!