Day 6: South Bend, IN to Chicago, IL

Friday, September 4

With the help of Yelp, we ended up at Jeannie’s House Diner, a thoroughly charming breakfast spot.


Jeannie’s House Diner, South Bend


This guy moved quickly, almost frantically.

The radio station in the diner was playing classic rock, and after a Beatles song (“Here Comes the Sun,” I think), we tried, in a not at all rigorous way, to make a list of the top ten Beatles songs. And now, I present options loosely based on our list to ask you: What is the best Beatles song?


I ate an omelette. I guess I didn’t take a picture of it. Perhaps you’re tired of food pictures. Perhaps that’s too bad!

During the quick trip to Chicago, my last drive with Andy, I had a mini meltdown about my failure to prepare for interviewing him and everything about the trip that wasn’t going exactly as I wanted. When we got to the city, we parked in a cavernous underground lot beneath the Art Institute for $35 (ugh), and when I took out the recorder to turn it off, I learned that it had somehow gotten paused after ten seconds. All that self pity lost! Even as I was wallowing, I knew it had been good tape. Or would have been. Fortunately there’s plenty more where that came from.


Selfie in Cloud Gate, the bean sculpture I know mostly from Source Code.

Parking was so outrageously expensive because there was a free jazz festival that night. We walked past some musicians rehearsing on the stage, and Andy noted that the nice thing about a jazz rehearsal is that it’s jazz, so the mood of the rehearsal is loose and improvised. Had we more time, we would’ve stuck around to watch more. It was difficult to walk past all the Goose Island stands and not buy a beer.


Scene of impending jazz festival

It was my first time at the Art Institute. In 2003 I took a North by Northwest trip with my dad, in which we followed Cary Grant’s path to South Dakota. We took an overnight train to Chicago, as dictated by the movie, and I did not sleep a single minute. So once we got to The Ambassador East Hotel (which sadly looked nothing like it did in 1959, and which was recently renamed as The Public), I crashed while Dad went to the museum. I’d always regretted it a little, so it was good to get there, finally, even if it couldn’t be with Dad.

I will share just one photograph from our tour of the art museum, but we saw a bunch of biggies: A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte, American Gothic, Nighthawks. It’s a great place, and I hope to go back some time and not be carrying a heavy bag on my shoulder. This Magritte speaks to me.

Rene Magritte, "The Banquet"

Rene Magritte, The Banquet

We spent a couple hours wandering around, then headed to the home of Phil, a friend of Andy’s family. Phil is incredibly generous and kind. He is also wealthy. There will be more about Phil and his apartment in a coming post, but for now, here is the view from his penthouse:


Lake Michigan

We got a tour of the place—Andy was annoyed with me for not taping it, but I’m just going with my own flow, here—and settled in for an hour or so until dinner.

Dinner was at a French place called Mon Ami Gabi, and it was delicious.


Trout Nicoise. I would like to eat this once a week.

Back at the apartment, Phil’s cats ate their own delicious dinners.


I sneezed a bit, but it wasn’t as bad as you might think, Mom.

And I made a new best friend named George. I’ll admit that I considered kidnapping him and taking him with me.


Phil Art of the Day

There will probably end up being some bonus Phil art in a future post, if I have time. The art in Phil’s Guest Bedroom #2 is better than the art in most people’s entire homes, by like, a lot. But today’s piece is from his foyer:

06-artIllustration by Fernand Léger
~16″ x 12″
Home of Phil, Chicago

Phil’s story of finding this piece is of the sort that only seems to happen to other people. He was in a Paris flea market. When he saw the initials “FL” he suspected it was by Léger, a French artist who worked from the early to mid-20th century. The friends he was with thought it was probably a fake. Phil asked the sellers how much they wanted for it. Fifty euros, they said. He thought it couldn’t hurt to buy it and find out whether it was real. It is real, of course, and it was appraised for $47,000.

Hotel Art Score

9/10. You never see line art in hotels. (I realize this isn’t a hotel but I’m not going to change this category.) This is delightfully wacky, with the woman splayed on the ground shaking hands with the man in the hat, the hatless man leaning on her, the child on the back of the bike in his star outfit, the bike that seems to be about to run over the woman. It’s amusing. I like that everyone has fat limbs, and I like looking at it.

Art Art Score

8/10. I’m way out of my league here. I might have more to say when I stop being nervous about evaluating art by a real artist.


  • don

    Yay, Mom and Pop diners.
    Yay, Art Institute and all therein.
    Yay, Phil and George.
    Yay, Leger.
    Yay, trip and blog.

  • Emma B

    Loved this. Sorry for the paused tape recording. But like you said, you will end up having so much, with so many different emotions.
    Is George Phil’s dog?? The pictures of you with George are SO so wonderful. I just love them. You look so genuinely happy and childlike.

    About a year ago, I found a painting at a Goodwill that looked interesting, and after trying to decipher the signature, I found it was Robert Chailloux, a known artist. And having heard stories like Phil’s (or, more specifically, people finding valuable art at thrift stores), I bought it for like $10, thinking I was going to be making thousands of dollars on a lost oil painting. After I brought it home, it was pointed out to me that it was clearly a reproduction printed directly onto the canvas. Like, it was way obvious. It now hangs in my dining room. Cause why not.

    • Beth

      Yes, George is Phil’s adorable dog.

      I love your thrift store art story. $10 for a piece of reproduced art you enjoy every day isn’t bad!

  • Nancy Sullivan

    Love the photos with George! I am glad your cat allergies were minimal. We went to a BBQ at Joey’s yesterday, and Gagam was able to read your blog on Sharon’s iPad. She really enjoyed it and remarked about your writing ability. I told her I would post any comments that she may have , so stay tuned.

  • Chris

    I meant to say: My Beatles’ list would look a lot different. I’d at least have Ticket to Ride and Norwegian Wood in the top five… I’d also probably have Yesterday, Strawberry Fields and All You Need is Love in the top ten. I can’t even remember how Nowhere Man or A Day in the Life go off the top of my head… Also, I voted for Elenor Rigby, but it’s basically a tie with Help – I always go back and forth between those two as my favorite.

    • Beth

      I understand about Norwegian Wood and All You Need Is Love, but can you explain about why Strawberry Fields makes the cut?

      • Chris

        You know, I heard that song for the first time when I was 11 and I had never heard anything like it before. I thought it rocked and has this groove – I liked the dichotomy of how it went from flutes to psychedelic guitars and then to horns/strings/sitar… I’m still really impressed by the descending chord changes in the refrain – so many of the Beatles’ chord progressions have been stolen or adapted in some way or another, but that one seems to get left alone, because no one has any idea what to do with it. It’s also one of the “default songs” in my head. It gets in my head very frequently – probably like once a week.

        • Mark

          I agree with you, Chris. It was heavily engineered by George Martin but the melody and song is pure John Lennon. I have to admit that I actually like the version that was re-engineered by George Martin’s son, Giles and released on The Love album, which is a Cirque du soleil soundtrack. It showcases a much more acoustic intro. It was supposed to be included on the Sgt Pepper album but Capitol records demanded a new single and EMI gave them Strawberry Fields and Penny Lane. What a mistake!

  • Mark Sullivan

    Well, obviously your favorite Beatles song or at least theme song for this adventure should be Hello, Goodbye!!