Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Blog Entries For The Price Of One

Each morning after reading the local newspaper I go online to read the Chicago Tribune and SunTimes. This morning both gave reports on two things that helped add color and defined my young adulthood.

#1. From the ChiTrib.

There are two stories, one here and the other here. It’s been 30 years since The Blues Brothers Movie was released. I was in the prime of my career at the time with many years ahead of me. Working downtown every day in 1980 at an office in the 360 N. Michigan Ave building on the southwest corner of Michigan and Wacker was a pleasure for a 29 year old me. Workers cleaning up after filming on lower Wacker overnight were evident as I arrived at the office on more than a few summer mornings.

In ’80 there was no Taste of Chicago, it was called Chicagofest back then and was held at the decrepit and abandoned shoreline warehouse known as Navy Pier. The pier was divided into sections where bands were playing simultaneously. Country, rock, blues, you name it. Out front was a main stage where headliners performed. Entry was cheap but the main stage was an additional cost. Having not actually been there in person I say today's Lollapalooza is a poor imitation or what once was an incredible and uniquely Chicago musical event.

On the opening night of Chicagofest in ’79 the headliner was Muddy Waters. The fellow I shared office space with was a huge blues fan and guitar afficianado. Bill knew Bruce Iglauer of Alligator records personally. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Iglauer in person and through another connection I designed two album covers for Alligator. Koko Taylor’s “Wang-Dang-Doodle” and Fenton Robinson’s “I Hear Some Blues Downstairs”. You won’t find my name on the jacket, Ross & Harvey, a design firm I moonlighted for took that credit.

The day before Chicagofest Bill told me I should go hear Muddy in person. Waters was really old, in poor health and probably wouldn’t be around for long. Muddy was a living legend he said. Oh, and another thing, Bill said it was not published but The Blues Brothers were going to show up to open for Waters at Chicagofest. That did it.

Bill had other plans that Friday night but another co-worker Mark expressed interest. On Friday the plan was to have our wives come downtown to meet us and we would walk to the pier downing a twelve-pack of original Old-Style on the way. We left early to get a good seat.

Sure enough the Blues Brothers showed up unannounced, took the stage with Mayor Jane Byrne and her daughter wearing pork-pie hats and sunglasses. They clowned around for a while and then gave a solid 45 minute performance. It was the whole band and it was a memory I will never forget. Oh yeah, Muddy was good too but Jake and Elwood stole the show.

At first this news made me feel old and then suddenly young again. It's all in the mind I guess.

#2. From The Chicago SunTimes.

The Superfans reunite

I just love this tailgating clip.

I first began watching Saturday Night Live from the opening show in 1977. That’s when it was funny, clever, groundbreaking, creative, relevant and everything the current show has not has been for more than a decade. In ’86 or so a skit with a group of guys who looked and acted exactly as me and my friends did performed the Superfans sketch. I laughed so hard I couldn’t breathe it was so real to me.

So in some form or another they are reuniting. I sure hope they do the originals justice. If Smigel (a Chicago native), Mantegna and Wendt are part of it this should be good.

Chicago is still a great city but the character it once had is gone, just a memory. I could go on, but trust me, it’s just not the same anymore. Dick Daily has done everything he can to fu*k it up. In creating his "World Class" city so much local character and traditions were flushed down the sewer. But my memories live forever.


chris from milwaukee said...

This past friday I was fortunate or unfortunate, depends on how you see it, to attend the scrubs/sux game. Beforehand we hit up the newly renovated sports corner. Espn 1000 was doing a bit and invited George Wendt for a 5 minute spot. For a moment he broke out into the famous "superfan bit". His bit centered around the blackhawks and of course Ditka. He said Ditka actually is Joel Quenville. It was completely unprovoked and utterly hilarious. Apparently the superfans had a movie lined up. For some reason it fell through.

Gerry from Valpo said...


George Wendt is a lifelong south sider and White Sox fan.

Chris from Colorado said...


I believe you gave me the Blues Brothers album for Xmas, a few decades ago. Still have it.

Dan from Madison said...

That is the gift that keeps on giving, Chris.

Carl from Chicago said...

I had a picture of that renovated Sports Corner in a recent post on Wrigley - it is GIGANTIC and ugly to boot

Dan from Madison said...

MAN that is one ugly building, they must have hired the finest architects from communist romania to design that ugly thing.