Watching the Wallenda walk


I happened to be in downtown Chicago the night Nick Wallenda planned to cross the Chicago River on a tightrope. How could I miss that? On the walk to the river, I steeled myself for the possibility that he could fall. How fast could I turn my head? But I should have been preparing for the cold.

It was an hour and a half of standing on the (beautiful) river at night until Wallenda came out. As cold and windy as life was on the ground, I could only imagine things dozens of stories up. But up and out Wallenda went!

He walked halfway across the river in what seemed like just a minute or two, with no trouble at all. The second half was the harder part, uphill to a taller building. He paused and bent a bit, but he kept going without any serious scares. The crowd got louder and louder, and Wallenda made it.

Friend Sheri met up with me to watch the spectacle, and that was great. We had to eat and skip Wallenda’s second, blindfolded jaunt between the two Marina towers, but we soon heard he’d survived that walk as well. The pair of stunts had their detractors in Chicago. I wasn’t one of them.







Wallenda makes it! And waves.

A video posted by Patrick Cooper (@btrpkc) on

Pix: Reuniafest 2010, when dawn matters in the win

When friend Adam grows up to be Willy Wonka, I am going to be glad that I know him. I’m very glad to know Adam now, in fact. His planning and generosity for his annual Reuniafest spectacular are unparalleled. I know he would rather grow up to be Willie the Wildcat than any Willy Wonka, but still. Reuniafest is the great glass elevator of friendship.

We begin this gallery on the north side of Chicago at 7 a.m. Saturday. The photos then continue through to the tailgate, game and night…

The bar, open early with beer, sleepy reunitings and breakfast.

The school bus waiting for us outside the bar.

The keg the bar loaded onto the back of the school bus.

Continue reading Pix: Reuniafest 2010, when dawn matters in the win

Pix: Chicago milkshake, puppy, Ferrell, pancake, jet

The Counter’s shake of the month: “HALLOWEEN CANDY SHAKE Vanilla Ice Cream Mixed with Your Choice of M&M’s … Served in a Chocolate Lined Glass and Topped with Whipped Cream.” I went with the M&M’s.

So much better than a “puppy lost” sign.

Ad in El stop. Thought it was a new Will Ferrell movie, then realized no.

The manager (owner?) called me “buddy” and I liked that.

Text in both directions: “Do not walk outside this area.”

Place you need to see: American Science & Surplus


The store is the most fun you can have near O’Hare with an hour to kill and an old car that won’t drive highways anymore. American Science & Surplus is exactly what its name leads you to believe, and it knows it.

Blurry blurb says: “Although they neither come from the sea, nor are they mammalian, they are a lot of fun. See! I can make stuff up too!”


The way all picture frames should be sold…


The way all beakers should be sold…


Lindsay tested a Chicken Dance Chicken, and the monster quickly got out of control. Singing, dancing! Where is the off switch? Where is it?


I tried to be good — resisted a steering wheel not knowing how TSA at O’Hare would like it —  but then bought Stickman Action Figure (“Make your own international hazard symbols”) and a lightbulb with feet.

Record Store Day in Chicago

Last weekend, it turned out the Dave’s Records I had found on Record Store Day’s site and followed on MySpace was just down three blocks from where I was staying at Karen’s. There was a line outside before opening. (And hey, there I was. As you can see in the picture, Karen tolerated the line affair, but I soon took mercy and sent her away.)


I had fantasies of Tweedy working at the counter with a “JEFF” badge, but Dave and his trusty assistant were pretty cool. Got the Wilco DVD, the Springsteen 45 for my favorite WOAD song and Whiskeytown’s 45. (The Gaslight live EP was nowhere in Chicago RSD previews I found.)


A Wilco moment that did occur: Waiting with CRCers at Hot Chocolate, hearing the opening notes of Impossible Germany — the first song the restaurant was playing all day, sounding wonderfully pure and rich — just as Lindsay saw this painting and totally misinterpreted my “Nice!”


(Screengrab, Hot Chocolate site.) (Also, fair enough.)

It’s that time of year

Ireland’s Greatest Hits in the CD player. Elvis’ take on Danny Boy on Winamp. Yesterday, dressed up in green shirt, green jacket, and Pat hat (pictured left — ugly, isn’t it?). Went downtown with Linz yesterday and saw the Chicago River dyed green for the parade. Stopped in at a packed Houlihan’s next to the river. Drank a green beer. It’s a good holiday.

If they can dye the river green today, why can’t they dye it blue the other 364 days of the year? — Dep. Biggs, The Fugitive.