The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

If anyone wants to get me a nice birthday present...

...this will do splendidly:

A new long-distance train, the East Japan Railway Company’s Shiki-Shima, launched this week, and it’s already earning praise as perhaps the most luxurious train in the world. Its 10 cars hold 17 spacious suites, some kitted out with cypress bathtubs and lofts. And that’s not the only thing that makes it feel like a five-star hotel: This train also sports a piano bar, two glass-walled observatory cars, and even a Michelin-accredited restaurant.

It holds up to 34 passengers, who are squired around eastern Japan for two to four days, paying anywhere between $3,000 and $10,000 for a round-trip ticket.

CGTN has a video review:

Dream a little dream

Oh, I hope this art installation flies:

In a planned one-day protest, four golden pig balloons will take anchor in the Chicago River, lined up to cover President Donald Trump's last name on his building's southeast facade.  

The giant swine come by way of Chicago-based design company New World Design Ltd., and will arrive by barge. New World is still negotiating how and when the pigs will arrive, but architect and firm principal Jeffrey Roberts says he is confident the project will come to fruition.  With the city's approval, which is still pending, the massive pigs will pop up for a day in late August or early September.

I'm looking forward to the day when the letters adorning that garish skyscraper come off permanently.

Fountain of youth

For reasons that shall not be explained here, I have, for the last two weeks, binged on Lena Dunham's "Girls." For context, I'm in the middle of season 2 while simultaneously just done with season 6, episode 9.

It's fookin' brilliant.

More context: I went to school in New York. I lived through the late '90s in New York. I was, back then, in my 20s. I watched "Sex and the City" and wondered who those people were, even as I went to the same clubs and bars. I made horrible mistakes. No one guided me. Just like every other 20-something in history.

Basically, in my 20s, people like Shoshanna, Elijah, and Hannah were my friends. As I watch "Girls" I see them clearly. It's almost as if the same problems come around to every generation, and every generation feels like they're the first to feel this way. (</sarcasm>)

But I keep watching, for a simple reason: Dunham can tell a story. I have no idea how closely her feelings align with her character Hanna Horvath's, but Dunham sells it regardless. And I hope I'm not projecting when I say it seems like Dunham has enough perspective on "Girls" to know how to present modern urban adolescence best.

Being 20-something in the '90s sucked. Apparently it does in the 2010s as well. I hope to find out for whom the 20s didn't suck, and why.

Organizing stuff is hard

This weekend, a "luxury" festival on a remote island in the Bahamas failed to live up to expectations, in the same way bricks fail to hover:

The organizers of the Fyre Festival promised “two transformative weekends” on a “remote and private” island in the Bahamas that was “once owned by Pablo Escobar.” Kendall Jenner promoted it on Instagram. Ja Rule was one of the organizers. Festival-goers paid thousands of dollars for what they believed was going to be a luxury experience. Anyone who could afford the ticket would arrive in paradise on a private jet with their friends, for a taste of the lifestyle that only seems to exist on the Instagram feeds of models.

None of that happened.

The first wave of paying guests arrived on Thursday, only to find themselves staring at a chaotic festival site that appeared to be weeks away from being able to host anyone. Blink-182, one of the bands headlining the festival, had canceled at the last minute. The tents that were set up for guests to sleep in looked like “FEMA tents,” one person said. Not exactly the luxury accommodations they’d paid for. Meanwhile some tents were still in their boxes.

The disorder at Fyre Festival appears to have caught a lot of the attendees off guard. But there were signs that all was not what it seemed. In early April, the Wall Street Journal reported that festival organizers had missed a series of deadlines, including those for paying artists.

Whew, the next time I have the opportunity to pay $250,000 for a trip to a desert island, I'll jump on it.

The festival organizers have posted an explanation.

Morning articles

Things to read today:

And finally, the Chicago Tribune has an article on our concert this weekend, and composer Jeff Beal performing in it:

"I suppose it might have been DNA asserting itself," said Beal, who will be in Chicago May 5 and Evanston May 7 when the celebrated Apollo Chorus includes his "The Salvage Men" and "Poor in Spirit" as part of their 145th-season-ending spring concert, "American Masters," in Chicago and Evanston. "It's true that [my grandmother] passed on her love of improvisation, but there's also something almost eerily similar about what she did, watching a screen and creating her own musical accompaniment, and what I do in my day job."

[H]e had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 2007. Though he took seven years to process the news before beginning to write "The Salvage Men" in 2014.

Serendipitously, that was about the time that Apollo Chorus music director Stephen Alltop, who studied with Beal at Eastman, got back in touch to praise Beal's work on" House of Cards" and suggest the possibility of doing a concert together. Which explains why Beal and his new choral works are appearing in Chicago directly after their debuts in London and Los Angeles. Beal also will perform solo trumpet over the comparatively simple text of his "Poor in Spirit," — it consists entirely of one repeated phrase from the Beatitudes: "Blessed are the poor in spirit" — much as he often plays trumpet over the score of "House of Cards."

Tickets are available through the Apollo Chorus website. It's going to be an amazing concert.

Things I'll be reading this afternoon

Some articles:

And now, Parker needs a walk.

Stuff I'll read later

A little busy today, so I'm putting these down for later consumption:

Now, I must prepare...for Whisky Fest!

Not sure I agree, but I do love steaks

Bloomberg has released its list of the best steaks in Chicago for 2017. It leaves off my current favorite (Kinzie Chophouse) and my old favorite (Morton's on State, before they got bought out), but it's not a bad list:

If you had to name one quintessential steakhouse in Chicago, it would be Gibson’s, which serves expert, icy martinis at the bar and stellar beef from the grill. (It is the first steakhouse to be awarded its own USDA Prime Certification—USDA Gibsons Prime Angus Beef. Local hero chef Tony Mantuano is a fan. “Gibson’s is clearly a classic, the one that every steakhouse is compared with. The bone-in ribeye is my favorite cut, since it gives you different textural experiences. There are different types of muscle in this cut—the deckle, or rib cap, at Gibson’s is one of the most delicious bites of steak you'll ever eat.”

Situated in an old butcher shop, Boeufhaus looks more like a Brooklyn hangout than a classic Chicago steakhouse. For one thing, it’s compact, with only 34 seats; for another, it’s decorated with filament light fixtures. Also, the menu starters include fluke crudo with sea beans and Burgundy snails—no mac and cheese or seafood towers here. Chef Paul Berglund loved it all, in particular his steak. “Boeufhaus may not be the most traditional Chicago steakhouse, but I had an amazing celebratory meal there post James Beard Awards [he won Best Chef Midwest in 2016]. We ordered the 55-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye and 35-Day Dry-Aged Ribeye (market priced), served side by side on the table. This restaurant is doing great stuff with local, grass-fed beef. It’s a really cool place to eat meat.”

So for my next celebration, I'm going to try one of these places. I'm sure I'll find something to celebrate soon.