Get The Ink Out: At last, I visit Chicago

Daily Pilot

EDITOR'S NOTE: Peter Buffa is taking the day off. His column will return next Sunday.

Start the car I know a whoopee spot Where the gin is cold But the piano's hot — "Chicago"

Ah, traveling. Planes, trains, bicycles, taxis, on foot, maybe a horse or two. OK, I'm kidding on the horses. I'll be in Chicago by the time this prints.

My roommate Alicia and I are visiting her best friend, Ben, for the weekend. I've never been to Chicago so I'm extra excited to experience a new city, try new food, smell new scents, see new sites.

So far on the agenda we have: the play "2,000 Feet Away," in which Ben portrays a child molester, a walking tour with the Chicago Architecture Foundation, a skyline boat tour, visiting the Sears Tower for the views, cooking dinner with Ben and, most importantly, souvenir shopping.

My dad and I have an arrangement that wherever I go I buy him a fly-fishing fly specific to or popular in that area.

So far I've gotten him something from New York City (believe me, finding a fly-fishing shop in Manhattan is not easy, especially when they've moved), San Francisco (which was easy because the shop was literally next door to my hotel) and Alaska (which was probably my favorite so far simply because there was such a variety to choose from). Alicia and I will be hitting up the Chicago Fly Fishing Outfitters on this trip.

I feel like Chicago has been on my radar since I started college and one of those nutty über liberal professors explained that it was originally pronounced "Chick-a-go" and means big smelly onion.

Then of course I saw the movie. That soundtrack is still my favorite background music for cleaning the house.

Most recently I read "Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic and Madness at the Fair that Changed America" by Erik Larson. "Devil" chronicles Chicago's attempts to put itself on the map as a great U.S. city by putting on the best World's Fair ever seen. But at the same time, a successful doctor and business man is murdering people, mostly single young women. Set in 1893, Larson describes the beginnings of many things, like Frank Gehry's career.

The city will obviously be different, but that makes me all the more eager to visit.

The website is still a work in progress. Unfortunately, this week has brought a few more setbacks. Jamie Wetherbe and I are working on the problems. Things should simmer down a little bit come June 14.

I'd like to thank all the readers who have called or e-mailed to let us know what they do and do not like. Some things we can't fix right away, so give us a little patience. And keep that input coming!

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