June 4th, 2012 § § permalink
Very soon your parents, siblings, grandparents, friends, lovers, etc. will be descending on Chicago like a swarm of buzzards, ready to spend the last weekend of your MAPH career asking you about job searches, moving plans, and your love life. Even those of you who are secretly (or outwardly) excited to have your parents here in a few days might just be clamoring for them to leave by the end of the weekend, especially if you don’t plan ahead. Chicago is a bustling city and it’s going to be even more bustling this weekend with the huge annual Blues Festival and the CPAC conference (which is why we were bugging you to book hotels so early).
So, our advice is to start thinking now about how to entertain your guests this weekend during the actually extensive downtime between convocation events. Oh, and right off the bat, if you haven’t made reservations for dinner Friday or Saturday yet, DO IT NOW. We put some restaurant recommendations in the Convocation timeline post, but come see us if you’re still deciding.
In the meantime, here are some helpful ideas for actual places to go and things to do (not restaurants) around town with your folks this weekend:
1. Chicago Blues Festival: The festival runs from June 8th-10th in Grant Park and is phenomenal for so many reasons. First, it’s FREE. You can wander into Grant Park pretty much anytime between 10:00AM and 9:00PM any day of the festival, pop-a-squat on a plot of grass and listen to some high quality blues music. Or, if you do feel like spending some money, you can buy some food tickets to get Robinson’s Ribs (Remember that delicious food we served you during the Opening BBQ last summer? Yeah. That was Robinson’s.), complete with corn on the cob and mac and cheese. Yum. Or, go classy and bring a blanket and a little cooler with a bottle of wine, some brie, and some baguette for your very own “outdoor mini-Social Hour” with your folks. They’ll be so impressed.
2. Green City Market: Hands down one of the best farmer’s markets in the area. It runs on Saturdays from 7:00AM-1:00PM and it located at the south end of Lincoln Park (approximately 1790 N. Clark if you want to map it). Seriously the best thing about the market is the location because there are so many other great things to do in the Lincoln Park area. Go to the market and grab a crepe or some pizza bread, maybe some fresh, local strawberries (just out as of last week) then sit and listen to the little jazz band that plays in the late morning. Then, you can wander over to the Lincoln Park Zoo or the little shops that line Armitage in Lincoln Park (Francesca’s, Paper Source, Art Effect, just to name a few). Oh, and if you’re stopping at Art Effect on Armitage, you HAVE to go to Annette’s right across the way. They have peanut better cup cookie dough ice cream. Yes, it’s all one flavor.
3. The Lichtenstein Exhibit at the Art Institute: You really can’t beat the Art Institute in terms of impressing your parents. It’s in the heart of downtown Chicago, right by Millennium Park and the building alone is worth a 15-minute ogle. Add the fact that they currently have an amazing Roy Lichtenstein retrospective up right now and you can get in for free with your UChicago ID. Your parents will marvel at their little cultured, frugal child. And, if you want the icing on the cake, hit the Chicago Architecture Foundation gift shop afterwards (right across the street on Michigan Ave.) for some early holiday shopping. Yes, I think about Christmas all the time.
4. Old Town Art Fair: This is one of the better summer art shows that comes through Chicago. First, it’s pretty huge (as in over 260 artists). Second, it’s in one of the cute, ritzy, old Chicago neighborhoods so it’s fun just to wander and look at the architecture, even if you’re not shopping for art. The main entrance is at the intersection of Lincoln and Wisconsin and it runs both Saturday and Sunday of this coming weekend.
Hopefully these suggestions will give you a jump start on plans this weekend. Don’t forget that Chicago is also home to a ton of amazing museums and a fantastic theater scene, so we’re always happy to give you more ideas if you need them!
January 31st, 2012 § § permalink
There’s nothing like a preschool classroom at Circle Time. You’re lucky if you can maintain your bright smile and upbeat tone while still being heard above the din. I look around at the children who, expected to sit cross-legged, are all in strange and impossible contortions that allow them to poke their friends, check out the kids playing outside, or grab for the blocks all while still, technically, keeping their feet on their designated dot. I raise my voice and hope to get their attention, starting in on the first verse of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” animatedly working my fingers to the motions in an attempt to encourage them all to join me. A few small voices pipe in, then a few more, louder this time. “Out came the sun and dried up all the rain…”
And then, from the corner…Deshon. “So you fancy huh, so you fancy huh, so you fancy, huh?!?!” he sings, bobbing his little 3-year-old shoulders to his own beat. All I can do is sigh, and smile.
Let me begin by saying that I am terribly grateful and horribly under-qualified to be bequeathed the honor of a post on the MAPHtastic blog. So often Maren and the mentors serve to inspire me, entertain me and, on rare occasions, dry my tears of despondency through the words they offer here, and its quite the intimidating task to follow their pens (or keystrokes?). That said, I’ll do my best to inspire, encourage… most likely just entertain… in the words that follow.
The MAPH program’s focus, obviously, is on offering a stellar intensive Masters education to a group of students with vastly broad interests. This is a massive undertaking in itself, especially considering the bureaucracy institutions such as universities can often be. Assisting students in navigating this minefield, and encouraging and supporting them in their passions and interests all the while, is a huge job. This year, however, the MAPH program has renewed their efforts to include another aspect of student life into the fold of MAPH-supported initiatives…that of service.
The mentors and administrators have included service opportunities and community projects alongside the social and academic events on the MAPH calendar, offering students the chance to mobilize outside of the classroom. The benefits to participating in such activities are too numerous to all be addressed here, but I believe there’s one benefit that’s overlooked and very much underappreciated by those of us who are often overwhelmed with the enormity of work enrollment in the MAPH program tends to bring, and that is the beauty of connecting the often abstract and speculative work you do in a graduate school environment with the concrete, unadorned reality of the world.
More on Alissa’s experience after the Jump
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December 31st, 2011 § § permalink
Chicago is full of watering holes. In case some of you don’t have any idea where to go for New Years, here are some ideas to kick off the Dive Bar Challenge.
The rules of this challenge are as follows: go to at least 3 of the bars and bring back some evidence of having physically been there (hazy memories don’t count, but the napkin-scrawled phone numbers of people you don’t remember meeting do). You get extra points if the bars are in a different neighborhood. The first to bring evidence to the MAPH office and present it to either me, AJ, or Whitney will receive some kind of awesome prize that will be decided if anyone actually goes through the trouble to do all of this.
You’ll be riding six white horses when you come to Zakopane
On to the bars…
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December 9th, 2011 § § permalink
Now that you are all nearing the end of final paper deadlines, it’s time to take advantage of your much freer schedule by enjoying some of Chicago’s best. Seeing all of the neighborhoods and prioritizing the sites you want to visit and the food you want to eat can be slightly daunting so, for those that need a bit of guidance, here of some of MAPHCentral’s favorite places and things to do in Chicago.
If you have a car and it’s not too cold, going out to the Morton Arboretum is fantastic. It is a great place to walk and feel like you are not in a city and take photographs. If you want to stay in town and do something going to the Julius Meinl on Southport then up to see an old movie at the Music Box Theatre is splendid. Julius Meinl has great coffee, tea and pastries.
For holiday cheer, I love going to the Christkindlmarket and walking around the various stalls while drinking gluwein and getting little paper packets of spiced almonds and pretending I live in a German Christmas village.
For a burger and fries, I like The Grafton in Lincoln Square where you can get curry gravy for your chips and on Sundays there is an Irish bothy band that plays traditional music. However, the best pub in Chicago is the Duke of Perth. It feels the most authentic and there are fish and chip nights and cottage pie.
Speaking of authentic if you want real buckwheat crepes filled with savory stews in an authentic French atmosphere then you want to go to La Creperie on Clark. The Boeuf Bourguinon crepe is excellent and they are close to the Landmark Century Theatre which shows lots of foreign and independent films so you can make an evening of it.
For the best (pricey but really good) cocktail in a speakeasy, meets David Lynch film, meets Wedgewood vase atmosphere you want The Violet Hour and it is nice enough to take your Mom, Aunt, sister etc. and give her a Chicago experience.
(More of MAPHCentral’s favorite things after the jump…)
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December 2nd, 2011 § § permalink
You may still be in the midst of finishing papers for various courses but it is not too soon to start thinking about how to manage the holidays and think about what you might do to prepare for winter quarter.
Skating through the end of the quarter?
It is important to take time to get rest, see friends or family, and generally recuperate. If you want to start thinking about the thesis or reading ahead this is a great time to get some reading done. Just set yourself a schedule and devote an hour or two each day or set a study date with friends either in Hyde Park or wherever you land to go to a coffee shop and get some work done.
Be sure to stay connected. If you are spending part of the holiday in Hyde Park you may find campus a little quiet. Stop by the MAPH office and check in with us. We’ll post the days the office is closed or hours are shortened. Be sure to check the library schedule as the hours may be different. Find other MAPHers who are in town to venture out and see some sights or just sit in a coffee shop and quietly read together.
Now for the fun part. . .
In search of some healthy recreation after spending hours inside writing?
There is ice skating in Millennium Park and on the Midway. The Museum of Science and Industry has Christmas Trees, a Dr. Seuss exhibit and a U-Boat what sounds more festive than that!
More holiday and anti-holiday events after the jump. . .
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November 21st, 2011 § § permalink
Elmo takes in the view on State Street
For those of you spending the holiday in the city it is wise to make sure that you spend at least one or two days not doing coursework. Sure meet up with other MAPHers and make a feast, but if you are looking for some diversions here are a few options.
If you don’t want to drive to the suburbs and participate in early morning black Friday pillaging there are other options for being in a mass of people.
Love the cupcake costumes!
Thanksgiving Parade on State Street. On November 24th you can head downtown. This is not quite Macy’s Parade in New York but there are floats and balloons and bands and your usual parade festivities. From 8:00-11:00 am on State street between Randolph and Congress.
The Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza lets you feel like you are visiting Germany over the holiday. A traditional style German market offers candied nuts in paper packets, gluwein, potato pancakes and bratwurst. There are also traditional blown glass ornaments, cuckoo clocks and other crafts. The market opens November 23rd. They light the tree at 4:30 on the 24th.
An Art Institute Lion gets its wreath on.
If you are already downtown you might as well check out the Macy’s windows (not as good as when in was still Marshall Field’s). You can then drop in on ice skating at Millennium Park or stop into the Art Institute to check out some art. Also they will be putting wreaths on the lions at 10:00 am on November 26th.
Yes, the Zoolights are lovely. . .
A little further north, The Lincoln Park Zoo starts Zoolights on November 25th. More mulled wine and hot pretzels are available as you take in the light display and see some zoo animals. Don’t forget to pick up some plastic mold-a-rama animals. They make great stocking-stuffers or Hanukkah presents . . .
Look, you could put a tiny wreath on your own Mold-A-Rama lion.
Crowds are not your thing?
You can still get out of Hyde Park and enjoy time outside. The weather is supposed to be warm. Visit the lakefront. In fact, there are groups that meet up just to go for walks. The Museum of Science and Industry has their Christmas trees from around the world up and the Muppets (okay those will be croweded) but avoid the crowds and look a the U-boat exhibit instead. (MSI has mold-A-Rama machines too, who knew holiday shopping would be so cheap and easy.) See a movie or go see live theater. There are often cheap theater tickets the weekend after Thanksgiving or use your Artspass.
This handy guide features a variety of charities in Chicago who are taking volunteers over the holiday weekend. University of Chicago has group service days on the 24th and 26th. Check out the calendar for details.
October 27th, 2011 § § permalink
So after the MAPH Halloween Party many of you may be looking for that place to hide and work on your Lacan paper free from the distractions of your usual haunts. Here are some recommendations for places work around Hyde Park and Chicago.
Exterior of The Bourgeois Pig on a warm day.
North and Northwest Side
Head north and off the Fullerton el stop you can go to the Bourgeois Pig where they have good tea, coffee, sandwiches and lavender shortbread and if you find a table you can stay for a very long time undisturbed. It can get a bit busy so if background noise is not your preference choose another spot.
If you venture as far north and west as Lincoln Square (off the Western Brown line stop) you have your pick of coffee shops. You can switch from one to another though out the day. For those into branding there is a Starbucks, but even better are the little coffee shops The Grind, and Cafe Neo where laptops are welcome and you can stay all day. If you need a break you can always shop the secondhand stores or the the independent bookshop the Book Cellar (which also has a cafe) or take in a movie at the Davis as a reward for a day of hard work. Further down Lincoln Ave. is a Chicago Public Library branch and a Julius Meinl where you can also study in peace. There is another Julius Meinl on Southport and Addison (Wrigleyville) which is equally pleasant and close to both red and brown line stations.
Alliance Bakery’s vintage-y sign
Ben’s pick’s for good places to work are Noble Tree (Lincoln Park) it is four stories and has lots of space to hide and write and Dollop (Edgewater) and Cafe Mustache (Logan Square- near the California Blue line stop). I’d add Alliance Bakery which has decent French macaroons and a nice room next door where you can work while you nibble your pastries and sip your beverage.
So you need to avoid Harper and Z&H or the Regenstein. If you need the quiet of a library a library and don’t want to run into fellow MAPHers who might distract you try studying in the Crerar Library or the Law School Library. If you need caffeine with your studies, There is an Istria coffee shop in the Hyde Park Art Center or the Smart Cafe is also great. Bonjour Bakery is another option and a bit removed from campus.
Just a short bus ride from Hyde Park. You can use the Harold Washington Library on State Street or the DePaul University Library (just enter the DePaul building on State and Jackson through the Barnes and Noble and take the elevators upstairs) you do not need an ID to enter it is always quiet and full of business journals which will not be distracting. There are great tables in the Chicago Cultural Center where you can camp out and if you need a break you can peek at whichever free exhibit is on display. Right next door to the Cultural Center is an Intelligentsia with great coffee there is another Intelligentsia on Jackson Ave, close to the Harold Washington Library.
Happy haunting and happy studying.
September 30th, 2011 § § permalink
Okay so you’ve all survived your first week and you have six novels , two film screenings and Hegel to read over the weekend and MAPH Central keeps telling you to leave Hyde Park. So if you don’t think you can squeeze in a play on this dreary rain-filled weekend save this post for some future night when you have an evening free and are wondering what you can do for $10. Some of you are in an arts reviewing class so seeing performances is homework.
Chicago is a fantastic theater town. There are many big theaters but there are also great small theaters performing in church basements and storefronts. There are performances where you could reach out and touch the actors (although the actors won’t like that). There are roughly 300 theaters producing work for almost every taste. Most of them are listed at the League of Chicago Theatres website.
However, the League won’t group them by style of theater and give you tips for seeing things cheaply. My updated guide to Chicago theaters and tips for seeing theater on the cheap is after the jump.
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September 22nd, 2011 § § permalink
The city motto is after all "urbus en horto" so make sure to find the best of this city in a garden.
So many of you who have not been working or living in a big city may find yourself missing nature trails and places to hike or walk or generally not see other people. While (alas) no mountains are ever going to be around Chicago there are a number of easy ways to get a bit of a nature fix right in the city. As a Western girl I have found many places to see a bit of nature in the city and have some recommendations after the jump.
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September 12th, 2011 § § permalink
Here’s a guest post from indispensible preceptor Anna Lee, who will be your virtual guide to the Art Institute and art institutions in Chicago in general. We’ll be visiting the Art Institute as a MAPH horde on Thursday evening (meet at MAPHCentral at 4:15 PM or at the Modern Wing entrance at 5:00 PM). Anna’s intro gives you a great overview of some of the museum’s highlights–and of other places you’ll want to check out around town.
Although the Art Institute of Chicago’s collection is strong in various areas, the Impressionist holdings tend to be particularly popular. In the last few years, the newly-opened Modern Wing has also been a major draw. But since you’ll have the entire year to explore the museum, here are a few of the most “famous” members of the collection to start you off. It’s great to view these in person, no matter how many reproductions you’ve already seen, and it’s nice to know where they are when relatives visit. The links below will take you to each work’s official AIC description, which includes an image as well as its location in the museum:
GEORGES SEURAT, A Sunday on La Grande Jatte:
Seurat, "A Sunday on La Grande Jatte." Just like Promontory Point, n'est ce pas?