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Sunday, October 12, 2003

Although I had set foot in Chicago before, I had not been there for anything like long enough to form a reasonable impression. I probably still haven't--- a two day conference is no way to get a feel for a place-- but I've decided that I like it enough to want to go back. Indeed, although there are logistical difficulties associated with the proposition, I might be tempted to nominate it as a candidate for KRAC's target marathon.

To be sure, I was seeing it under very favorable circumstances: I am sure that the weather was unseasonably nice, and the buzz over the Cubs had everyone in a great mood. The Chicago Marathon was today, so I don't know how it went, but the city was pretty keyed up about that, too, with multiple articles in the papers-- Sports section and various Lifestyle sections-- every day that I was there, and banners flying, and people just talking about it.

It is said to be a fast, flat course, and it would be attractive and interesting, too. There was every indication that the locals come out big time and support the runners-- 40, 000 runners.

People who have tried to describe the Hog Butcher to the World to me in the past have told me that I would like it because "it's like New York." This predisposed me towards not liking it, since most things that are described that way turn out to be pale imitations of what I like about New York. I would say that this description is really not fair at all to the City of Big Shoulders, which is not much like New York at all, that I could see. Chicago does seem to have a broad-shouldered sort of easiness to it, an expansive air that is not at all like the more old world, close quarters feeling New York has. I had always thought that Chicago had a kind of hang-dog, "We're the Second City" attitude, but I would interpret this now as an appealing sort of modesty. Among Midwest cities, I am sure it seems swaggering, but it impressed me as being unassuming about its status as Capital of the Middle Part. I thought that it's architecture was often clever, and maybe even witty in some places, although there were certainly parts that aspired to being monumental as well, and mostly succeeded at that.

I managed to get out and run along the Shore for about five miles, and wouldn't mind doing that again-- even if I never make the Chicago Marathon, it is so plainly a terrific running city that I would enjoy another visit just to hang out and be sportif. I would particularly like the opportunity to do that at the hotel I got to stay at this trip-- it was quite nice, thank you.

For the most part, when I travel I am like David Byrne, trying to find a city to live in. Nothing about Chicago made me feel that way-- the way I did when I saw San Francisco, or Tokyo, the way I do whenever I am in New York. I wouldn't mind a trip back, though, and it's a short list of places that I say that about.

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