Thursday, July 18, 2013

In Chicago and Illinois Part I

One way to describe this trip is that size does matter. Granted that the reason we were going to Chicago was for G-Fest XX that celebrated everything that was Godzilla and Kaiju related. But before I go into that, I wanted to go back to he size thing. No, I'm not talking about THAT (this is a PG post folks). Allow me to elaborate.

We flew out of LaGuardia airport on the Delta Shuttle to Chi-Town and for these short flights they utilize smaller "shuttle" planes which hold roughly 70 passengers. Since I sat with my son, I didn't feel cramped in my seat (which I usually find myself feeling on most planes). It was at the bathroom where I felt the size crunch. Lets put it this way, I must have felt like the Big Show from the WWE feels in ordinary bathrooms. My head made contact with the ceiling of the bathroom while the door shut directly on my back. I just had enough wiggle room to use the facilities and to turn around to lock and open the door. Consider that I'm a decent sized man at 6'1" and 270lbs but even there I found myself compressed in the cramped commode. I made sure to use the bathroom on the plane just once. LOL.

After we arrived at O'Hare Airport, we took the shuttle bus from the airport to Enterprise Rent-A-Car where again I was met with a size challenge. My last rental from Enterprise was a Volkswagen Beetle which I drove from Monterrey to San Francisco in 2011. I absolutely loved it. Again I decided to go with a compact car and this time I was given the Fiat 500c. It is a nice little car. I have no complaints on how it drove. Very smooth on the road and easy to handle. The issue for me was that once I got in (and stopped banging my knees) there was not much headroom. Now, I wasn't bad as Bob Parr aka Mr. Incredible in his little car but again as with the bathroom on the plane, there wasn't much wiggle room. It was a useful little car while I rented it but I couldn't think of owning one for myself.

After getting lost for a while in and around Rosemont, Illinois and finally finding the hotel, we checked into our room. We decided to relax for a bit before the double feature at The Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge, Illinois. Now why was I surprised when I turned the TV on and saw that they were playing a Japanese monster movie. I should have known better. Actually, the convention had a whole slate of movies, documentaries and interviews from prior conventions playing throughout the convention on channel 2. It was a very nice touch. On to the theater we went.

Park Ridge was about five miles or so from our hotel and we found ourselves in a small town which that "Main Street" feel you tend to see in the movies. There was a outdoor festival going on called A Taste of Park Ridge where a band played and food was served in a nice park next to the City Hall. I have to say that I felt a little jealous of this. you just don't see events like these in the Bronx. It reminded me of the old 14th Street Fair in Astoria from my youth and the feasts that are still done on Ditmars Blvd. before I get lost on memory lane, let me get back to Park Ridge.

We parked and stopped off at the Pickwick Restaurant which is located next to the theater. I felt as if I not only left NYC but I also went back in time. The restaurant evoked the feel of 1950's and 1960's diner. The only thing missing was the personal jukeboxes on the tables. The service was super friendly and you can tell that the same clientele went to the restaurant often since the staff referred to the majority of the customers by their first name.

Taken by RUSSELL B. PHILLIPS courtesy of

Now as you can see above, the exterior the Pickwick is an old school theater. The theater looked like it was ripped out from a book of old Chicago-area movie houses. It was old school down to the machine that spit out the ticket stubs, the prices for a regular movie (see below) AND the small concession area. We were definitely NOT in New York City folks.

Luckily for me that's where the old school feel ended. The theater of the Pickwick that was showing the movies had been recently renovated. They installed a huge digital screen and these massive cushioned rocking theater seats. I was definitely happy about that. I was dreading having to spend the better part of 7-hours seated in cramped theater seats.

Oh, and the movies we saw? Well the double feature had Gamera vs. Gyaos and The X From Outer Space (which surprisingly is a Criterion Collection movie) and at the midnight showing was Pacific Rim which you need to see ASAP if you're an fan of action flicks.

By the time we left the theater at 2:20am and got back to the hotel it was close to 3am. We took ourselves to bed knowing that we needed to be up early for the registration of the G-Fest XX Convention. Little that I know I would be even more tired after day two. :)