[Dear Roger Ebert Fans: If you are coming here in response to his kind recommendation, he was referring to this earlier post.]

Chicago, Chicago that toddlin’ town.
Chicago, Chicago I will show you around.

I’m not quite sure what toddlin’ is, but I’m sure I did a lot of it this past weekend. Which is great, because Chicago is one city I’ve always passed by for some reason. Except for a wedding I was in and the time I was snowed in at O’Hare for 7 hours waiting for a connecting flight. I loved the Blogher Conference, but one of the best things I did was get out of it and get into Chicago’s streets with real Chicagoans (Chicagoites?) One of the highlights was walking and clicking around the South Loop with a photography group buddy who shall be known by his nom de flickr: Kingdufus. He and I both belong to the Flickr group Project 365, where members commit to taking and posting a picture a day for a year. If many of us know the West through John Ford’s movies, well, I can be said to know Chicago through Kingdufus’s pictures.

Interesting note: when I tried to take a big panorama of all tall buildings, it came out like the buildings on the edges of the pictures were falling down. They arent.

Interesting note: when I tried to take a big panorama of tall buildings, it came out as if the buildings on the edges of the pictures were falling down. They aren’t.

So here are some of the highlights with the complete set here (where you might even see a picture of the elusive Kingdufus.) Unfortunately, coming from low-profile San Francisco and Sonoma (where we might have a two story feed barn somewhere), most of my pictures tended to be looking up at all the tall, tall buildings. Luckily The King was there to point out all the details of doors, grates and windows that I would otherwise have missed. I also got his Chicago Curmudgeon’s take on everything from Mayor Daley to cafes taking over sidewalks to Donald Trump.

My curmudgeonly friend told me not to pronounce the T in the Rump Building because, well, Donald Trump is an Ass.

My curmudgeonly friend told me not to pronounce the T in the ‘Rump Building ’cause Donald Trump is an Ass.

My conclusion? Well after travelling all over the world, I’m now going to have to firmly declare that Chicago is a WORLD CLASS CITY (with all the caps). Besides the sights, there is a wonderful energy here. But not the sometimes scary, edgy energy of New York. Rather a friendly Midwestern energy (even if nobody in Chicago knows their way around, a theory I tested when I got lost on Thursday night.) In the words of our Governator: I’ll be baaaaack.

Kingdufus kept trying to convince me that this Picasso sculpture was actually done by Pablos underachieving little brother, Ernie.

Kingdufus kept trying to convince me that this Picasso sculpture was actually done by Pablo’s underachieving little brother, Ernie.

This is The Bean in Millennium Park. Which is very cool in a Magritte surreal kind of way.

This is The Bean in Millennium Park. Which is very cool in a Magritte surreal kind of way.

The patented Kingdufus Architectural Tour also takes you UNDER Chicago. Some of it is a little scarier than this.

The patented Kingdufus Architectural Tour also takes you UNDER Chicago. Some of it is a little scarier than this.

This is the Fisher Building. Commissioned, I think, by some guy named Fisher.

This is the Fisher Building. Commissioned, I think, by some guy named Fisher…

Who loved his name so much, he had the whole building covered with carved carp, salamander and other fishy motifs.

Who loved his name so much, he had the whole building covered with carved carp, salamander and other “fishy” motifs.

This is George Washington shaking hands with someone Ive never heard of and someone called Hyam Soloman. So I think this is one of Washingtons Middle East peace forums.

This is George Washington shaking hands with someone I’ve never heard of and someone called Hyam Soloman. So I think this is one of Washington’s Middle East peace forums. Kingdufus says the buildings in the back are the “Corncob School of Architecture.”

The Kingdufus Tour also included a run through the Art Institute where we saw a great exhibit on Wine Through the Ages.

The Kingdufus Tour also included a run through the Art Institute where we saw a great exhibit on Wine Through the Ages.

I havent even mentioned the inside parts of the tour that showed me grand staircases, a city model and this Tiffany dome.

I haven’t even mentioned the inside parts of the tour that showed me grand staircases, a city model and this Tiffany dome.

At this point, I could do the expected thing and paste in a Frank Sinatra video from YouTube. But I’m going to treat you to Valdemar, the Russian Frank Sinatra:

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