Archive for April, 2007

If you don’t swing, don’t ring

Did you know that the original Playboy mansion was in Chicago? I sure as hell didn’t, else I wouldn’t have left it till the penultimate day of my second trip here before checking it out. Turns out I’ve actually walked by it countless times, as it’s just around the corner from Dave’s apartment and on our way to the pub. Alas, the last of the bunnies left in the early 80’s when Hef moved full-time to LA. Ground zero of Chicago hedonism is now here (and here).

Apparently there used to be a brass plate on the door with the Latin inscription, Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare (“If you don’t swing, don’t ring”). I’m pretty sure they weren’t talking about golf.


Top 5 Chicago landmarks

Saw this while out shopping with Dave this morning.

Last time you saw it, there would have been a sign out front saying ‘Championship Vinyl’. Pretty cool huh?

BTW, I must (?) confess that my inner child couldn’t help but snigger at the address – Cnr Milwaukee & Honore Sts, Wicker Park. IIRC ‘Honore’ is another term for ‘scrotum’ – an obscure reference to French writer HonorĂ© de Balzac .

*fnar fnar fnar*

I’m lovin’ it! (but I gotta play it safe)

Today in the NZ Herald:

Child’s McDonald’s meal comes with condom

Those Happy Meal toys have come a long way since we were kids, hey?

And the duck said…

… ‘I don’t know, doc – it started out as a boil on my ass.’


I finally got around to hitting the Surgery Museum today. I really like museums, especially the smaller ones. Wellington got shafted when they gave up their old museum in exchange for Te Papa. It might be a great exhibition hall / function venue, but Te Papa is NOT a museum. The Auckland museum is one of the best I’ve ever seen, with thousands of real artifacts and pieces of historical significance on display. Isn’t that what museums are supposed to be?

I think the reason I like museums so much is that they provide a context that stimulates the imagination. After I went to the whaling museum in Picton (essentially some guy’s house, jam-packed with remnants of the old NZ whaling stations) I dreamed about that stuff for weeks. Maybe that’s why many museums are finding it hard to attract visitors these days – people don’t have imaginations anymore, so they just don’t get it. That’s really sad, but I still don’t see that the answer is to dumb it down to the point where you’re little more than a glorified art gallery. As far as museums go, the whaling museum at Picton kicks Te Papa’s ass.

Anyhoo, enough ranting (for now). The Surgery Museum was pretty cool – click here for pics.

Thank you Mrs O’Leary*

I’ve heard a lot of people comment on Chicago’s great architecture, and from what I’d seen until this morning it was easy to agree with them. Then I took the architecture tour, and somehow the word ‘great’ just doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. Amazing? Fantastic? Incredible? That’ll do.

There’s a lot of history and stunning design lining the streets of this city, but I think the thing that impresses me the most is the attention to detail. There are beautiful buildings, sure, but also bridges, curbs, the lakefront, the riverside – it’s all designed to make the city beautiful. One of the original planners of Chicago (the guide mentioned him today but I forget his name) had the then-crazy notion that if the city is a beautiful place, beautiful people (i.e. non-scumbags, not the Paris Hilton kind) will live in it. One direct consequence of this, for example, was the modelling of the riverside walks on the Seine in Paris.

I took a ton of pictures today, so click on the image below to view. You’ll have to forgive the lack of captions – there is far more to say here than I could ever do justice. I highly recommend you buy/borrow/steal a book on Chicago architecture and read it till it falls to bits (as I am going to do in amout 20 minutes).

*Reputed cause of the Great Chicago Fire. Brilliant architects flocked to the city in the reconstruction and… ta-daaaaaa!

Creepy creepy creepy

The International College of Surgeons is a few doors up from Dave’s apartment, right next to the Museum of Surgical Science (closed today, sadly, so will have to pop back later in the week). This statue sits in front of the former, presumably there to scare the living shit out of school children, homeless people and others less able to afford a top-shelf quack.

They say if you see a statue of a soldier whose horse has one leg in the air it means he died from wounds sustained in battle. If the horse has both front legs in the air it means he died in battle. (And presumably, if the horse has three legs in the air it means he died in a riding accident). Anyhoo, this statue suggests to me that the poor sap met his end at the hands of a medical student. I understand that back in the day it was cheaper to make your own cadavers rather than buy stiffs through the usual channels, and I get the impression that the College is rubbing it in.

Got the willies? Me too!

After dark

As much as you can get sick of the noise etc, I think cities really are beautiful at night and Chicago is no exception. I’ve been meaning to take some night shots for a while, but this is all I’ve managed thus far due to other nocturnal priorities. Will try and organise a ‘quiet’ night while I’m here (i.e. head out a bit later) so I can take some more.

Chicago by night