Chicago this weekend!

I’ve really enjoyed walking around downtown Chicago the last few days! The weather’s been clear and temperate, and it’s been a wonderful introduction to a city I’ve never visited before. Wednesday I walked from Soldier Field up along the harbor to the river, and everything just seemed nice. People were jogging and biking; I talked to a dude fishing for bass in Lake Michigan; a lady’s dog was just freaking out at a goose who seemed much calmer than I would have been in the same situation. I exchanged a knowing glance with a jogger as if to say, “Yeah, I see it too. That dog is nuts.” Overall I am having a wonderful time!

So much so, in fact, that I am in danger of becoming infatuated with Chicago. Some kind Twitter folks tried nobly to warn me away — they say it gets cold; it’s windy; the politicians are corrupt; Ira Glass is not very tall — but to all that, my heart is saying “balderdash.” If I don’t get over this infatuation, I might uproot my entire family and career to move to Chicago immediately, and that would be devastating and irresponsible! So here is my challenge to you: come see me at C2E2 this weekend (booth 965, with TopatoCo) and tell me something bad about Chicago to bring me to my senses. If you say something that nobody else has said, I’ll give you a free sketch!

So which will it be? Will I destroy my family and ruin my life, or will you come and snap me out of it? We will see how the weekend goes!

23 thoughts on “Chicago this weekend!”

  1. I can’t make it to C2E2 this year (which sucks, because I’ve been reading about how half of the artists of the comics I love will be there!) but having lived in the Chicago area for nearly 18 years, I can tell you the one bad thing that drives me batty: allergies. I didn’t _have_ any until I moved here! Ugh. 😛

  2. Um Blagojevich? But I guess he makes the entire state of Illinois look bad. Hmmm, how about Capone? He made that city a terrible place to live. But that was a long time ago…. I got it! Their pizza sucks! As a New Yorker, I know those shepherd’s pies they call pizza are a disgrace!

    So I can’t make it to the convention, you can just send along that free sketch in the mail =P

  3. I just moved here last year and honestly, I love it in Chicago! I’ll be at C2E2 sometime this weekend. I hope that you will continue to enjoy your time here. 🙂

  4. Well, I’m a New Yorker, and I’ve only been to Chicago once. But I will say, in my very limited experience, that’s it’s pretty racist over there. I’m a black female, and I was walking with my white FEMALE friend and we were getting comments. And we accidentally took the train into the wrong neighborhood, where I was promptly asked what I was doing bringing her there. So yeah, I kinda hate Chicago.

  5. I lived in Northwest Indiana for 3 years and Chicago was my favorite part of the experience. Coming from Southern California, it took me a while to adjust to the weather, but it was also nice to see people out and appreciating the good weather (as you have experienced) instead of just taking it for granted. Grant Park is a series of Festivals almost all summer long. Truth is though, that you’re probably catching the best part of the year, along with the late fall. Most of the time it’s either going to be bitterly cold and gray or blazingly hot and muggy.

    That said, the city is wonderful. Great history and culture; like New York, but cleaner. (Yes, I went there.) And don’t believe Mr. Casalino about the pizza. Get yourself to Pizzeria Uno (or if that’s too busy, walk north one block to Pizzeria Due, it’s the same owner and menu, but usually less crowded). Home of the original Chicago deep dish and absolutely delicious. Wash it down with some local Honker’s Ale. Man, I’m making myself hungy.

    Every city has its drawbacks, but Chicago is a cultural, historical and architectural gem. I could tell from your style and sensibilities that it was a place you’d be drawn to (no pun intended).

  6. Actually, Ira Glass is a surprisingly large guy. About six-one, I’d say, and built pretty broadly. I think he lives in New York now.

  7. This won’t help you avoid moving to Chicago, but while you’re there, take at least one architectural tour. Someone with your artist’s eye will especially appreciate how many amazing buildings Chicago has.

  8. I live in Chicago–won’t make C2E2, but I can tell you it’s a great place to live. Every place has its problems. This is what I say: maybe not the greatest city in the world, but certainly the best.

    I think you’d love the connection of this place to its history. Daniel Burnham and his cohort were a formative influence on the place, from about a century ago. The architecture of that period is all over, mixed in with newer stuff. I think you’d find it inspiring.

  9. Come on over! Originally a native of Austin, I’ve lived in Chicago for almost seven years now and I love it deeply. Just this week, as the leaves are coming out after the long winter (which actually wasn’t that bad at all this year by our standards), I realized once again how beautiful this city is in the spring and summer. The city’s motto actually means “City in a Garden,” and the reasoning for that really becomes apparent at this time of year.

    People here are largely welcoming to the extent that it sometimes seems like a gigantic small town (and, indeed, that may be the root of some of the corruption). The crime that we’re so famous for is actually limited to certain areas, which is both tragic and good at the same time.

    I actually live in Oak Park now, which is basically an pretty extension of the city these days as opposed to a suburb proper. If you’re into architecture, you might want to get on the Green Line to the Harlem station and check out Frank Lloyd Wright’s studio (and many homes) on Forest Avenue there.

    Downtown, you’d appreciate the Rookery in the La Salle Street Canyon and the Cultural Center on Michigan (the former library), and many other things.

    People here know and love their history, too, and they’re very aware of where they came from as a city. Chicago is alive, friendly, and a city that keeps kicking.

    And if you want to see one of the few bona fide remnants of the gangland era, go to Holy Name Cathedral (right across from where I work!) and check out the cornerstone. There’s a bullet hole left there from the assassination of legendary gangster Hymie Weiss, said to be the only person Capone ever truly feared. 😛

  10. I couldn’t be back home for the convention, but I’ll throw in my two cents.

    Setup: Grew up in Illinois, lived in Chicago for three years, now living in the Pac Northwest.

    Reasons not to live in Chicago:
    -For being the third-largest city in the US and one of the largest cities in the world, Chicago has terrible public transportation. Anyone who says differently probably hasn’t waited in the Chicago winter cold for the El to arrive 15 minutes late, travel unreasonably slow once en-route, and be filled with the stench of a homeless man who has defecated in his seat.

    -I love Chicago deep-dish; no denying that. Overall, though, Chicago cuisine is pretty lacking. I know that people have their spots that are great and MUST TRY(S), etc., but overall I’ve been won over by the Northwests abundance of seafood and local grown/raised produce and livestock. (That being said, I don’t think I’ve known better Mexican food than in Chicago, specifically Lazos/Arturo’s off the Western/Armitage Blue line; go to Lazos on the weekend evenings for live music during dinner!)

    -For every friendly person, there’s probably 2-3 suspicious or angry people; and I can concur with Nadine that there’s a lot of racism and general mistrust/fear in every direction. Great swaths of the city were constructed and governed with an “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” view of poverty, crime, and economy; it’s hard to break such inveterate traditions and hierarchies.

    Overall, though, maybe the same could be said for most major cities in America. There are advantages and disadvantages, characteristics to loath and love. That said, I’m happy here in the Northwest. 🙂

  11. It’s not Melbourne. And that is a good enough reason not to live there. (I am, of course, referring to the major Australian city rather than any other location.)

  12. As a born-and-bred Chicagoan, who’s lived in Osaka, and now lives in Tokyo, Chicago is where it’s at. No doubt. It is the most awesome city ever.

  13. Do it, destroy the family! Er, well, don’t do that, but do move to Chicago. I am! My family is from there originally, and though I’ve lived much more of my life in LA, I absolutely love Chicago over LA. It’s wonderful. Do not let anyone convince you otherwise. I’m flying out there two weeks from today! But I’ll be at Festival of Books next weekend, to convince you of the epic-ness.

    (At least I assume you’re still going to be at Festival of Books, sidebar’s not loading for me.)

  14. I absolutely love Chicago and absolutely loved meeting you at C2E2. Although, I was completely embarrased when I pointed to your book (in front of you at the Topatoco booth) and said “Ooo, Wondermark! Is he going to be here too?!?” Sorry. I thought I only got blond highlights, but apparently the dye went deeper. Anyway, great webcomics panel too! My husband and I talked about what we would need to do in order to move to Chicago our entire 3 hour drive home yesterday. We’ll do it if you do it!

  15. One word,

    The lake smells like Ass and Dirt on hot summer days. And the wind can be a real drag after the 30th straight day. Especially when it is doing an amazing job of making 50F feel like freezing.

    One way of the other, go visit there in November before you make any serious decision. If you can take a week or 2 of November you should be OK. Also remember that this is a seriously strange and balmy year in the midwest in general. Normally there would still be a bit of snow in the shade here and there.

  16. Actually, there’s very little not to like about Chicago. Yes, it gets cold. So what? It doesn’t get THAT cold (nothing that a good coat won’t fix), and it only stays cold for a certain number of weeks, which you can cross off on your calendar as they go by. Meanwhile, a change of seasons is great fun. Then again, there are people who like the static non-weather of, say, coastal California, but not me.

    Chicago is a great city in the old mold: big brick buildings, endless streets, neighborhoods to explore for years, all on a big body of water. Check out photos of the Oak Street Beach in July, and you’ll think it’s Rio. It’s New York without the crazy cost and pretension, Los Angeles with an actual city. It’s Chicago! What’s not to like?

  17. I see you live in Venice — oh, dear lord! With these wonderful 100-year-old, quirkily Victorian images of yours, why do you live in such a place? I see you thriving in Chicago much more than L.A.!

  18. I have to concur on that point. Chicago is where much of the groundbreaking American architecture of the late 1800s – think the World’s Fair – was conceived and built. There are still lots of Victorian gems hidden all around the older parts of the city. I live in Chicago now and I love to go exploring, even just in my neighborhood, because there are always new things to discover (and blog on a shamefully irregular basis about)!

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