I returned to my apartment from the grocery store around noon. It was drizzling a little when I walked through the lobby door, but by the time I reached my apartment room, rain was pounding so heavily against the window it felt as though the room was going through a car wash. Unpacking the groceries, I gave up on the day, doubting the storm clouds would clear before the end of the day. Thank goodness I was dead wrong.
I suppose it is true with every major city that the beauty of any trip is only further highlighted by the trip's timing with special events in the city itself. This weekend was no exception.
A group of six friends, Bill, Dylan, Ryan, Brad, Charles and yours truly, set out for an adventure in Irving Park, a neighborhood in North Chicago. The L's Brown Line would take us directly there, and on an elevated train ride through the big-shouldered city. Arriving in Irving Park, we were greeted with the aroma of charcoal, pork, and some of the finest barbecue sauce in the world. It was the 10th annual Chicago Rib Fest.
Thousands of meat enthusiasts descended upon Irving Park for what was a celebration of life, a celebration of flavor, a celebration of pork ribs. A five-dollar donation to get in, and with every other pair of one dollar bills after that, I was treated to some of the finest barbecue in Chicago. Every rib brought with it a messy dose of different sauces and flavors, leaving nothing behind but two polished bones and a handful of soiled paper towels. It was amazing, to say the least. Many vendors asked us to vote for them, but never finding the ballot I will cast my vote via blog: I really enjoyed the Cordis Brothers Supper Club's ribs the best; the sauce was a perfect match of tanginess with a hint of fruit and a heavy dose of black pepper. Delicious.
We spent about an hour and a half in the sun, devouring rib after juicy rib. By the time we returned to the train, we were tired to say the least. But, a thirty minute train ride back to the city and we found our second burst, just in time for the Chicago Blues Fest held at Grant Park.
The rain that fell earlier in the day and the constant flow of spectators created a really earthy soup below my feet, but that didn't detract from the lively crowd, the great sunset, the beautiful view, and the legendary entertainment to come. By the time 8:15 rolled around it was time for the evening's headliner, the king of the blues himself, BB King.
The muddy people that filled Grant park exploded with applause when the 82-year-old King walked to the middle of the stage. "Ten years ago, I wouldn't have had to sit down," he said as he made himself comfortable on a folding chair in the middle of the stage, "but that was ten years ago." You certainly wouldn't have guessed it the way he handled that guitar and by the way he "took care" of the crowd. He began with "Let the Good Times Roll" and they certainly did.
To hear a legend like that and to see him perform (even though we were a couple of football fields away from the main stage) it was easy to get lost in the fun. However, we weren't lost for long, and after a few performances we took our dead-tired bodies back to the dorm and watched the last few minutes of Game 2 of the NBA finals.
With a day like today, I can't help but repeat in my head the first few lyrics of "Let the Good Times Roll:"
Hey everybody, let's have some fun
You only live but once
And when you're dead you're done, so...