Rudy Panucci On Pop Culture

About that secret mission…

As I explained earlier, Mrs. PopCulteer, Mel Larch, really wanted to go to Chicago to see the new Steppenwolf Theater production of the Tracy Letts play, Bug.

In the days before we left I realized that I was in the grip of a Myasthenia Gravis flare up. However I was ready to buckle down and go enjoy this theatrical experience. It’s not like I need control of my fingers to watch a play.

In fact I was reading the Chicago arts and entertainment website New City, and discovered that the night we were to arrive in the Windy City for this very quick trip, another theater in town was staging a production of the Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus.

This was Haven Chicago who perform at The Den Theater in Wicker Park. What was cool about this is that my wife is currently in rehearsal for a local production of Titus Andronicus, which coincidentally opens Thursday night. I will tell you all about that tomorrow.

Even with your PopCulteer somewhat impaired we managed to be very lucky in that Amtrak was running right on time and The Mighty Cardinal actually got us into town half an hour early last Thursday morning. Not only were we lucky with Amtrak but our hotel room was ready as soon as we showed up, five hours before the normal check-in time. Things were going well.

This gave us time to relax and unwind in the hotel room before we went off to the Wicker Park area to see Titus Andronicus. This was our first time visiting Wicker Park. It’s a pretty cool place. I’ll bring you my thoughts on Haven’s production of Titus later on Wednesday. (Spoiler: It was mind-blowing)

And so we enjoyed a fine evening of Shakespeare and grabbed a taxi back to the hotel to rest up for the next day’s adventures.

And what adventures those turned out to be… Friday morning we got up and decided to do one of the most touristy things we’ve ever done in Chicago–we visited the famed Navy Pier. We shopped, we ate, and we rode the big freaking Ferris Wheel. It was a blast, and you’ll find photos below.

Then we headed back to the hotel and napped. Remember, I’m a bit wiped out by MG on this trip. It seemed like there were more sirens than usual during our nap but we got up in plenty of time to make it to Steppenwolf, and then we turned on the news to discover that right outside our hotel there had been a shooting!

You may have seen it on the national news in the last few days, but in short an unruly passenger resisted being subdued by police and wound up with a couple of bullets in him for his efforts. He survived and the police have been suspended. At least this one wasn’t race-related.

Unfortunately for us this meant that our very convenient CTA station at Grand & State on the Red Line was not available because it was now a crime scene, and we would have to take a taxi to Steppenwolf. Making matters worse, Grand Street in front of our hotel was also shut down so we had to walk a half a block to get our ride.

We couldn’t use our handy Venta pass, but at least we didn’t get shot. While this may seem alarming, I still feel safer in Chicago than I do in Downtown Charleston sometimes.

Friday night, after our change of transit plans, we took in yet another amazing evening of theater which I will tell you about in a later post here in PopCult, and afterward we made it back to the hotel and got up the next morning ready to hop the Amtrak back to Charleston. Before that, we decied to make use of our Venta passes and rode around on the L, experiencing our first bit of strangeness as our Brown Line Train mutated without warning into an Orange Line Train headed to Midway, halfway through The Loop. Who knew there was such a thing as a trans-spectrumnal CTA train? We were able to transfer back to the Red Line before we wound up at the Airport.

On top of being weakened by Myasthenia Gravis for this trip a sinus infection which had been lurking in wait for me for the better part of a week finally got the best of me on the ride home, and by the time we were back in Dunbar I needed some bed rest and some fancy sinus medicine.

I’m recouperating right now which is why you didn’t read this post yesterday—I was too wiped out to write it,. Because my fingers are so wonky I’m actually writing this by screaming it into my cell phone which I will then email to myself and heavily edit because otherwise it won’t make any sense because of the cheesy voice recognition. Or as I said earlier, “Tacos partition, endeavor to look askew Toronto.”

You can expect a couple more posts, probably Wednesday, about the Chicago trip. Then Thursday morning I’ll tell you all about the local production of Titus Andronicus and if I’m feeling better Friday I’ll resume my toy fair coverage and try to tell you about stuff you can do this weekend.

Also, Wednesday The AIR will bring you an all-day marathon of Mel’s Curtain Call program, and Thursday will be filled with the best of Radio Free Charleston.

Right now I’m just going to share a few photos with captions and then go to sleep early.

Arriving at Union Station in Chicago.


The Centennial Wheel at Navy Pier.


The view of the Chicago Skyline from The Centennial Wheel.


Mrs. and Mr. PopCulteer in the Crystal Gardens at Navy Pier.I really need to color the beard again.


And we leave you with a shot of the palm trees in the Crystal Garden. They are quite gigantic.

Remember that Monday Morning Art will feature works inspired by this trip all month long. Check back later on Wednesday for a couple of theatre reviews from the trip.

1 Comment

  1. Keith P Mayo

    I think you should sell official “Tacos partition, endeavor to look askew Toronto” t-shirts and use this as the Pop Cult moto. You could write it in a circle around the image of a taco.

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