The Wu is skipping town for a few days to present a paper at a conference in Western Michigan. Since The Wu has never been to the Midwest, I thought I'd give her some travel tips to aid in her enjoyment of Chicago and Kalamazoo. Sure, I've never actually been to Illinois or Michigan, but I am fairly sure that I was conceived in Wisconsin. I know what I'm talking about here.
Jack in the Box:
For as many Sourdough Jacks as you can stomach. Chicago has amazing bacon, since they're the hog butcher of the West, and the Sourdough Jack reflects this culinary tradition.
Chicago-style pizza is very famous and delicious, though it's not quite as authentic as what you can get at Zachary's.
This is a pretty fancy restaurant, so it might be a little difficult to get a table. If the maitre d' gives you any trouble, simply tell him that you are the sausage queen of Chicago. I can call you at the restaurant if you need someone to back up your alibi.
Their production of "Magic Carpet Ride" won four regional Tony Awards back in 1968, and they're currently showcasing a revival of "The Pusher". Powerful stuff.
Any place that sells expensive hooded sweatshirts:
This goes without saying.
As hot as they might be, with their devil-may-care attitudes and missing limbs, you simply cannot trust them.
Elevator rides with Al Capone's bookkeeper:
Again, just not a good idea.
The not-so-Great Lakes:
Lake Illinois, Lake Iroquois, and Lake Saskatchewan are really not very impressive. Do not be tricked, Cassie!
Attending graduate school:
Because what are you going to do after you finish grad school in Chicago? Answer: Keep taking classes and applying to grad programs, for years, but in the Bay Area this time.
Even if they're warm and soft from being in someone's pocket all day.
Saying the name "Kalamazoo" as much as possible:
Because it is much more melodious than saying "Richmond Annex". Capitalize on these opportunities.
The Kalamazoo Zoo:
If you get excited about zoos, but hate animals, this is the place for you, Cassie. I repeat, there are absolutely no cats and/or horses at this zoo. The Wu and the zoo in the 'Zoo. How can that possibly miss?
My sister Molly took a picture with him when he was staying at the same hotel as her soccer team, back in 1996. Don't touch his hat, if he's wearing one.
Cinco de Mayo celebrations:
Downtown Kalamazoo turns into a street fiesta on the 5th of may every year. When you think "authentic Mexican food", you think, Western Michigan. However, don't talk about the Battle of the Puebla in the wrong company. Battle Creek has a lot of Emperor Maximillian sympathizers.
Jokes about Viagra:
You're right by the Pfizer headquarters, and jokes about Viagra never, ever get old.
Carbonated sugary beverages:
Whether you're talking about disappointing U2 albums, or a Diet Coke in Kalamazoo, I am always wary of pop. People have gone to Michigan and had the linguistic changes linger for years. You might never say "soda" again - once you "pop", you can't stop.
South by Southwestern Michigan University:
This school has gotten totally commercial over the past couple of years. Plus, it's overrun with hipsters.
Lipitor is not just a heart disease medication anymore. While the drug itself lowers cholesterol in the body, Pfizer's thugs stalk the streets, slapping fried foods out of people's hands, and scrawling, "Fuck high-density lipoproteins" and "The only good cholesterol is dead cholesterol" on abandoned buildings. It's really quite terrifying.
Bathrooms that lock from the outside:
Seriously, what the hell is wrong with Michigan?