Thursday, October 15, 2009

Chicago: Uncle Nick's

So I may have given the impression in the last post that I have pictures of Alex enjoying his first ride on the L. But no. Not one. Zero pictures of Alex on the L. Turns out the L is pretty packed on a Saturday afternoon, and pulling my cumbersome Canon Rebel out of my backpack - or pulling anything out of my backpack, which was still on my back, for that matter - while balancing A on my lap without elbowing the guy in the seat next to us, and then try to get a picture of Alex's face while he was facing away from me without looking like a totally lame tourist...was not something I was prepared to do. Besides, we had woken him up from his nap because he went down late, and we wanted to make sure we had time to spend with Nick before we left in the morning, so he was a bit groggy and spent most of the train ride in a daze.

He woke right up when we got to Nick's apartment, however. If anyone is familiar with Chicago, Nick lives in the Wicker Park/Bucktown neighborhood, which is just north of downtown. He teaches guitar lessons at a great guitar store called Avenue N Guitars (among other places), and conveniently lives in the apartment above the store. For some reason I expected his place to be a tiny hole-in-the-wall bachelor pad, but his place was fabulous! A bright and spacious studio with two big rooms, a new kitchen and bar area, storage space...




Of course Alex didn't notice any of that. What he did notice was the electronic drum kit and fancy keyboard and guitars as far as the eye could see. He was PUMPED and immediately ran to the drums, then ordered Uncle Nick to lift him onto the seat so he could play.



Nick showed him how to keep beat with the bass drum with his foot while playing the other drums with his hands. The problem, of course, is that Alex can't reach the bass pedal while sitting on the seat, and when he was standing, he had a hard time playing drums that were at eye level while trying to keep beat on the base. Nonetheless, he gave it his best effort and had a ball in the process. I'm really concerned that we may have a future drummer on our hands. As long as he plays electronic drums so I can control the volume, I guess that's okay...




Then again, there may be a new instrument vying for the top spot in Alex's heart. Somewhere between the drumming and keyboard-playing and guitar-strumming, a harmonica appeared. And not one of those lame plastic ones that you might find in a Crackerjack box, but a real harmonica, a beautiful silver harmonica designed to play in the key of G, and one that Alex mastered in split seconds. It was so surprising how much sound he was able to get out of that thing. He liked it so much that Nick let him keep it, and he was pretty psyched.




So much, in fact, that he played it as we walked to dinner, down the rainy streets of Chicago. I can't really think of a more appropriate place to play a blues harp than down the rainy streets of Chicago. We ended up going to dinner at one of Nick's favorite haunts, a little Irish pub called Aberdeen. All of the food was amazing, but suffice it to say that Alex will never eat my mac & cheese again after eating theirs. The only thing better than the mac & cheese was the "sticky pudding" we had for dessert - seriously to die for.

We had to head home after that to get packed, get A to bed, and get ready for the plan ride home. Boohoo, we weren't ready to leave yet, but all good things must come to an end...


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