Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:
[This coming] weekend is the fourth annual Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (that “C2E2″ thing I won’t shut up about) at Chicago’s McCormick Place convention center, which my wife and I will be attending for our third time. As a tribute to this fascinating city, and an intro to C2E2 newcomers to provide ideas of what else Chicago has to offer while they’re in town, a few of this week’s posts will be dedicated to out experiences in the Windy City when we’re not gleefully clustered indoors with thousands of other comics and sci-fi fans.
Next on deck: our stroll through Chicago’s Navy Pier. What sounds like an off-limits military installation is in reality a stretch of public entertainment options that extends into Lake Michigan. Docked beside it are a handful of select cruise ships that offer sightseeing or party services for the right price. Budget-minded tourists like us are free to take photos and imagine the fun.
The Navy Pier is home to a children’s museum, retail shops, restaurants (e.g., McDonald’s, snack joints, a commercialized version of the Billy Goat Tavern), miniature golf, and amusement park rides. Their Ferris wheel is a landmark easy to spot in movies and TV shows filmed in Chicago.
As with other Chicago locales we’ve witnessed, the Navy Pier ambiance benefits from public displays of random art. Among the less random is “Captain at the Helm”, a salute to the all-around ship-drivin’ man.
Less generalized and more well-known is “Juliet of Verona”, based on the titular heroine from the William Shakespeare tragedy about young lovers with severe communication issues.
Less ancient but similarly misunderstood is Dr. Bob Hartley from TV’s The Bob Newhart Show. Bob, one of the sculptures in the grassy park leading up to the pier proper, is one of several such statues planted nationwide through the generous sponsorship of TV Land, one of the few basic-cable channels ever to create its own roadside attractions instead of ordering low-budget hourlong TV specials about them. In past road trips our family also laid eyes upon their Ralph Kramden statue in Manhattan and their Mary Richards statue in Minneapolis.
I didn’t catch the name of these kids playing Ring Around the Rosie. I suppose their display of joyous unity is context enough in itself.
This deceptively random sequence of numbers and letters, when deciphered, spells the frequency and call sign for a Chicago NPR affiliate. A prime, colorful example of advertising disguised as art, then.
If all this isn’t entertainment enough, this handy sign informs the most skeptical tourists they’re a long, long way from anywhere but here, implying that perhaps they should make the most of wherever they are.