Salsa Con Madre

If you’ve ever been around the Bussies homestead, you would be well aware of the immense quantity of salsa that we consume. After what I assume started off as a little kitchen experiment, the condiment soon became a snack and mealtime staple – polishing off entire jars on fajita/taco/chips n’ cheese deluxe dinner night was commonplace. We peaked at about 80 jars per annum, and its unending supply was absolutely taken for granted by all. Fast-forward a few years to my independent adulthood, and the lacuna left by my lack of salsa was felt deep.
IMG_0487On a recent visit home, mom and I hit up the Holland farmer’s market to procure our pepper hoard and then got to work on a batch. Beyond just the quality time together, I was looking forward to learning the ways of this time honored art. The boiling phase which permeated a pungent odor throughout all corners of the house would be familiar, but everything else was going be a learning process. The project started by blending all the tomatoes and peppers into a slurry which we collected into an enormous pot. All sorts of capsicum varieties were utilized to create a full bodied flavor profile, and then I added the heat to taste – mostly hungarians,  jalaps, and some habs. This salsa has always been meant to be ladled upon chips and meals, so while I appreciate a good burn, anything gimmicky hot misses the mark.
IMG_0490Our blending continued until the vessel was brimming with the pepper pulp; I had some fun with it.
IMG_0493All that remained was to add some cilantro and vinegar to the concoction and then let it simmer on the stove. During this time the greenish schlopp changed until it reaches its familiar shade of red. A little taste testing suggested that this was spicier than any other we’d batch made, but this being mine was perfect. Our effort yielded a dozen jars, which I’ll have to ration somehow until mid 2016.

Tiff Gets Hitched

So I know that most of the thoughts, events, and feelings I’ve captured in this space have been pretty well focused on me, and what I’ve deemed to be those antics and endeavors worth remembering. There have been just a few instances however where I’ve extended the glorious limelight and profound honor of recognition to my peers by making a little room for them as well. Grandpa Harvey’s 90th was one, and now my sister’s recent-ish wedding is another. The time taken to write and record these has all been part of an effort to preserve life’s most momentous occasions so that I can entertain nostalgia whenever the urge arises.  I do believe that a sibling’s wedding more than meets that criteria.

The wedding of course had nothing to do with me – I was but a mere usher – though it is one of the big moments in 2015. In the months leading up to the big day, I probably came up short in saying and doing all the things that a supportive sibling would generally be expected to do. Though I do partially claim ignorance, there’s likely a fault of character or two at play as well.  I had to navigate a minefield of social norms at my first ever rehearsal dinner, and of course the main event as well, but I’d say I was passable.  In the end these two made it, and soon enough uncles Judd and Poops will be on standby – he to babysit, and I to simply be the favorite.  Tiff, John, and the man.IMG_0834I don’t wear suits all that often, and this is as good as I’ve ever looked in one. It’s probably some sort of faux pas to highlight that fact myself, but what’s obvious is clear anyway. I sought out the first cerulean instrument around for a photo.

The 2015 Rugby Japan Cup in LA

Towards the beginning of November, myself and the rest Japanese Rugby Football Club of Chicago (JRFCC) descended upon LA to vie for the Japan Cup. Our opponents were the other Japanese clubs from Seattle, NYC, Houston, and of course this year’s host, LA.  The teams play through the spring, summer, and fall but this is the one to get excited about. Everyone arrived throughout Friday, though I chose a flight that would let me work the full day and get there later. I finally showed up to the hotel around midnight and joined the rest of the team for some Tecates. in our captain’s room. Most of us live in Chicago currently, but as work assignments generally last only a few years, we had several players in from all over: Japan, Malaysia, Alabama, Michigan, and of course Chicago. It was great to hang out in that little room and chat [in Japanese] until eventually sleep won out.IMG_0061That next morning, myself and the other two foreigners interned to a room on the basis of our heritage rushed to make good on the free breakfast. We were a bit disappointed by the spread of dry cereal, and white oleo-less bread. Defeated, I settled for a plain croissant and joined the rest of the group in the lobby to carpool. With the blue sky and palm trees, it felt far from Chicago.IMG_0066We warmed up with some drills and cardio, and ran through a few of our set plays.  As the other teams filtered in, it was clear that our 16 member squad was indeed the smallest.  A full team is comprised of 15, but because the matches were only 20 minutes long our hope was that despite their depth we’d hold our own.  The games opened with us lined up by team where the format was explained. We would be playing four 20 minute matches in a round robin style, with the top two teams going once more for the trophy.Our first game was a tie, through we were only a few paces from scoring the winning try.
IMG_3852 Despite the outcome, it was really a deflating match as two of our players were hospitalized – one with some fractured ribs and another with a broken collar bone. No one wants to see injuries period, but this was even harder as it put us down below a full roster. Things worsened when another left due to an intense black eye in one of the later matches. We were able to get a guest player or two, but we were always down. This was part of the reason for our 0-3-1 record, as well as a few missed opportunities. It being only my second time playing as an openside flanker made knowing how to properly contribute a challenge. It is however a hectic position that suits my physique, and is certainly something that I hope to build on for next season. I took more than a few cleats in the ruck.
IMG_0065I’ve thus far avoided any injury during my rugby career, though every game has hits that leave me slow to get up. As of the time of writing, I’ve still got aches, scrapes, and bruises galore. Stupid as this likely seems to the uninitiated, a fear of injury doesn’t even register in the mind of a rugby player. Smashing past defenders, and hauling a meaty runner down to the pitch is immensely satisfying and worth being in on. My tactic for this is generally to just grab on and lift my legs – running seems to become harder once 210 pounds of Dutchman affixes itself asymmetrically to another’s torso…
12212030_922135274502459_956835105_nThe championship game was truncated a few minutes thanks to a head/neck injury. I’m not sure how serious it wound up being, but chances are never taken here.  It took a while before the ambulance came and carted them away. In the end NYC was the 2015 champion, and despite the injuries we all had a swell time. Next year’s tourney will be held in Seattle, which is already something I’m excited for. My hope is that by then I’ll be well versed in the game and able to make some significant contributions.
IMG_0073A few of us spent some hours at the hospital while waiting for those injured teammates to be assessed. I do want to go on the record as saying America’s emergency rooms are a joke – 6 hours of waiting with a broken collar bone is unacceptable.  I can’t imagine any other developed nation doing a worse job of defining ’emergency’.  But I digress…  The rest of that evening would involve plenty of food and entertainment; many were no less excited about the celebration than the tournament itself.
IMG_0075We would be dining at the Sea Empress – a Chinese restaurant, interestingly – and we really packed out the banquet room. As a part of the hospital crew I showed up a little late, but still able to jump right into the feast. The event was actually sponsored by Sapporo Beer, so people were dressed in costumes, and there enormous bins of the chilled beverage. The sting of defeat dissipated as we embraced this particularly cultural evening. Throughout dinner, we had an emcee of sorts who brought different players up on stage to acknowledge their MVP status, or to preside over a variety of contests. At one point there was a little musical number that featured the most insane karaoke performance ever – we all had eyes wide open and jaws agape; the cameras came out too The room was in stitches, and I really had to sift through the photos to find one that I felt comfortable sharing.
IMG_0101From the restaurant, those feeling it moved to the nearby Budda Bar.  I was able to meet up with an old high school friend of mine and his girlfriend. Ian had moved out to California about the same time made for Japan, so the last five years have had few opportunities to catch up. Their willingness to make the hike up from San Diego for the weekend was certainly appreciated. We celebrated the momentous occasion with a little karaoke of our own, and then Ubered 30 minutes to where they were staying to grab some late night food and go to bed. After walking into some taco joint, we changed our minds in favor of a diner next door. Walking in, I saw a few Japanese folks, and simply said “rugby?” while walking past. Of course they weren’t since it was 3am and this was the other side of LA, but later during our meal one of them came over – I was flabbergasted to find that it was my girlfriend’s brother!  I had never even met the guy before.  My Chicago rugby shirt allayed his doubts, but as soon as he came over I realized it right away too.  For as unlike as such a meeting was, I snapped a photo to send May.
IMG_0103We eased into the next day, and then set out towards Hollywood. My visit to LA many years earlier didn’t include any of this tourism. It was interesting seeing exits for Sunset Blvd, and all sorts of other names I’d heard referenced in pop culture. After parking up, the three of us grabbed grub from an international food fair and walked around. Not sure what I expected of Hollywood exactly, but to me it just gave off the impression of any other urban center. We did a few blocks worth of the walk of fame, though there were very few recognizable names. I guess that people die, and then their legacy is quickly forgotten by the next generation. We did manage to spot Humphrey Bogart, Michael Jackson, and Johnny Cash’s. We popped into Amoeba too, one of the last big record stores around.
IMG_0115 One of my touristy bucket list items was to get a good shot of the famed sign. We drove around until figuring out that Griffith Observatory (Named after Griffith J. Griffith) offered spectacular views. We poked around the astrology museum, strolled about, and then made our way back down to the city. The next stop was to the Fairfax Senior High School to walk though a ‘Flea’ market.  This was a bit of a pilgrimage stop for me, as both the singer and bassist of the Red Hot Chili Peppers had gone to school there. Ian and I were able to get our one shot together.
IMG_0130From the observatory you could look out over the whole of Los Angeles.
IMG_0148The last LA stop we were going to make before they turned south toward home was an In-N-Out.  I had never been, and for as much as people rave about the place I felt like it needed to happen. I got myself a double double – animal style – which was honestly good for fast food, but any real burger blows it away. Frankly, I don’t know why more people aren’t relishing Weinerschnitzel as a superior option. From there they dropped me at a theater to kill some time before my midnight flight. I watched Spectre, and hopped an Uber to the airport. I arrived back to Chicago at 6am, with just enough time to head home, nap, and report to work. All in all, I had a well rounded, fulfilling, and fantastic weekend, and I’m excited for the tourney next year.

Job Change: Movin’ On Up

I was chairing a Toastmasters speech contest on a day that featured a guest speaker.  I must have made some positive impression on the woman because she approached me afterwards. A coworker of her’s was looking to fill a vacant spot on his team, and because the nature of the work was intriguing, I took her up on the offer to pass along a resume. Things moved quickly from there. I was contacted by someone at the company asking if I would be interested in sitting down to discuss the opportunity further. Oddly, we live just a few blocks from each other. Just a few days latter, we were sitting down over beers at the nearby Taphouse for an ‘informative interview’.  It was meant as an opportunity to learn more about the company and the role. I was captivated. Fast-forwarding two weeks, and I had myself an offer.

Moving to a new job of course meant leaving the old one, but I had been ready to make the jump as soon the right opportunity came alone. I was anxious to get myself plugged into a role that let me make use of my international experience and passion – a part of my resume that was specifically highlighted by the new company.  There were a number of other factors that taken into consideration as well.  Goodbye Buffalo Grove.
The new company is AAR Corp, and is based in Wood Dale, IL, though it has offices all over the world.  There are a number of business units, but at its core AAR is a broker for airline parts – when planes break, your Uniteds and Air Tahitis can either buy new or hit the aftermarket.  My focus is with Airbus A330/340 airframes.  The general task is to take what stock we have and offer it to the sales team in the most margin friendly way, or else source from the market myself whenever it makes sense.  I’ve got emails pouring in from all over the world, everyday.  The opportunity was a step up for me, as I am a Senior Product Line Rep. Here is my work space, which was recently renovated by our friends over at Herman Miller.
IMG_0049There are a number of perks that came along with the position, not the least of which was a new phone. Farewell fuchsia flip phone, hello 6s+.

Birthday Harvey

The extended Bock family gathered in West Michigan for a powwow to celebrate Grandpa Harvey’s 90th birthday.  Given the monumental accomplishment that such a number represents, I made sure to get myself back home from Chicago to be a part of the festivities.  This was his second party of the day, but Grandpa dug deep to come up with the energy needed to make it though.  After sharing a rationing a meager pizza with the family, we transitioned into ‘presents’.   Something I think anyone would struggle with is finding a gift for someone who has already celebrated this occasion 89 times, and has by his own definition already got everything.  The plan was pitched and executed to cull together the thoughts of all his friends and family in video form, and then stitch them together into one big montage.  It was received well.
Here is a picture of sister Tiffany, grandpa, and myself.  Parker?
IMG_0482After steeping in that 15 minute collection of thoughts and memories, Grandpa offered a response of his own.  You may need to crank the sound in order to hear it.
Beyond just that event, it was a family heavy weekend, but at least I was able to make the most of a trip home.  This new favorite came during my time home.

Cruising to Cleveland

Once again, work necessitated that I drive somewhere new for another trade show.  I made my reservations as usual, but on this glorious occasion, Enterprise had very little available on the lot.  ‘Would you mind taking a free upgrade to a 2015 Ford Mustang?’  ‘No problem. That’ll be alright.’  The thing was banana yellow and had a bit more pep to it than did my oh so practical hybrid.
IMG_0577On this particular day, I was transporting a kiwi friend in from Sydney who just coincidentally was planning a visit to Cleveland herself.  Having someone to share the drive with made the trip far less boring, and of course it saved her a brush with a Grayhound.  Even better was the chance to swing north into Michigan for a quick visit to my hometown of Holland.  We did a whirlwind tour through the downtown and Hope College’s campus, Holland State Park, and then joined my family and grandpa for dinner and dominoes.  It was a bit of a detour, but worthwhile.  Finally some 5 hours later we rolled on into an fairly impressive looking city.  I really didn’t know what Cleveland would be like, and was pleasantly pleased by the accessibility of the downtown area.  We met to walk around before I had to hit Wooster for some booth time.  One point of curiosity was a particularly large stamp that defied practicality.

Cleveland’s most famous tourist draw is of course the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.  I assume that you like me were wondering why they would choose this city in which to build a monument with such universal appeal.  Turns out that at the time of construction, Cleveland was the 7th largest city in the USA (Currently down to 48th) and more importantly, it was in this city that DJ Alan Freed coined the phrase ‘Rock and Roll’ way back in 1951.  Not sure who designed this hodgepodge of a structure, but it sat proudly right on Lake Erie.
IMG_0560We were there when the doors opened, and spent a couple of hours working through the various exhibits.  It was a great mix of music history both old and new, and had loads of noteworthy memorabilia on display.  John’s Sgt. Pepper’s suit was an intriguing example.  There were exhibits on all the great acts from every generation, as well as some of the other aspects of the music industry.  Roger Water’s iconic ‘Wall’ caught my eye.
IMG_0572After the day’s Wooster time, I returned to meet Hannah and a couple of her friends.  One of the guys was a fellow teacher from during our time in Japan, so it was good seeing him again.  We swung into a couple of the local bars that night, and my favorite was definitely Great Lakes Brewing Company.  This is one of the larger regional craft breweries that has distribution into other states.  It’s nice to get some of those recognizable beers from the source, and their Edmund Fitzgerald Porter was my obvious choice.  After seeing a few leg lamps in windows during my short time there, it was a definite ‘aha’ moment when I realized that ‘A Christmas Story’ had been filmed here back in ’83.
IMG_0579There was a bit more to do down in Wooster, but just as soon as possible I was heading toward home.  All of the first hour was spent tearing through rural villages and roads.  This was a fun drive, and really gave the sense that I was in authentic Ohio.  Most of the radio stations were either Christian or country.  Nothing to see but crops and barns. Once back on the freeway, the rest of the drive continued on uneventfully and eventually I was back to Chicago.  Prior to this little excursion I had only ever been to Cedar Point, so getting just a bit more of what this state had to offer was worth the effort, and better than a cubicle.

St. Louis: An Overarching Report

Once again, my company’s need for a human body behind a table dictated that I head on down to St. Louis for a couple of days.  This was another place that I had never been to, and was of course keen on the idea of checking it out.  I hopped onto Wikipedia to glean a few St. Louis facts before soaking it all in for myself.  Here were my findings: It hosted the 1904 Summer Olympics, has more than halved its population since 1950, and is also home to the largest group of Bosnians outside of their homeland.

I finally made it down to Earth City, MO where I got the booth situated.  I’ve shared booth photos before, and I know you aren’t interested in seeing more.  With everything set for the next day, I returned to my car and did battle with traffic until arriving at the vastly more interesting St. Louis.  The city was of course smaller than the Chicago metropolis I call home, but thanks to its famous arch the skyline is no less distinctive.IMG_0511The domed building once served as the courthouse for St. Louis, but has since been re-purposed as a museum and ticket counter.  I strolled through the rooms to learn a bit about St. Louis’ French fur-trading origins, slavery, and of course the historic journey of Meriwether Lewis and William Clark that began from here.  The inside of the dome looked a bit like ‘The Patriotic Church of USA’.
IMG_0514I picked up a 10 dollar ticket, and then made my way on over to the inverted cantenary arch.  At 630 feet high [and interestingly, 630 feet wide] I knew that it was going to be on the larger side.  Coming up to the base though, the bold lines and flat surfaces really made it loom.  I was able to charm some passerby into snapping a rather snazzy photo.  I didn’t spend a great deal of time down in the base, the plan was mostly just to go up and down.  The trams that haul people up were clearly built at a time predating American’s swelling waists, and the concept of claustrophobia.  Up at the top were some small windows, and to be honest, the view from the apex was nothing spectacular.  I had a clear day with great visibility, but the merits of such a vantage point are lost when there isn’t really worth looking at: St. Louis is only a medium-sized city, and the Illinois side has nothing at all.
IMG_0519Following my descent, thirst set in.  One of the National Parks employees pointed me toward the Morgan Street Brewery.  Tuesday night must not be a big one for St. Louis, so I just strode on in and took a seat at one of the many empty bar stools.  Their flight let me a sample one of everything they had on tap.  I imbibed while listening to a guitarist play several unlikely covers.  The beers were all good enough, but nothing jumped out to me as truly remarkable.
IMG_0539After settling up, I decided to again in another area of town.  I walked several blocks, struggled to find an entrance, but did eventually make it into Alpha Brewing.  They offered two vastly different sets of beers so I simply had to try a flight of both the ‘alpha’ and ‘beta’ varieties.  The alphas were represented by a predictable mix of lagers, ales, and IPAs – all good, but no surprises.  Then there were the betas, each of which was uniquely it’s own.  As the the bartender/owner explained to me, he and the other owners would generally inebriate themselves so as to summon inspiration.  Many of these were sour beers, and most were aged in some exotic barrels.  The chardonnay casks imbued an interesting flavor profile in one, the use of coffee in another was great, the pomegranate in another was tasteful.  Each of these were unlike any I had ever had before, nor were they gimmicky – I truly enjoyed them all.  It was at last time to go and prepare myself for the next day.  St. Louis was a nice city to walk around in, and certainly iced the cake baked by getting out of the office for a bit.

Tampa Time

The sales team recently had a bit of a pow wow down in Tampa (Clearwater, technically).  As a company we get together to talk strategy, new products, and overall direction each year, and while this generally takes place at either the Chicago headquarters or manufacturing facility in North Carolina, this time a year of great sales was rewarded.  While the mindset was that this was still work, I’m fairly certain that everyone was looking to it as an opportunity to relax just a bit.  If I can say anything about the company, it’s that they do know how to keep us employees happy and having a great time.  There were a lot of meetings and presentations, but I’ll just highlight the fun stuff we did besides that.  I had to rise earlier than I would on any true vacation, but doing so to this view was a marked improvement over an average day.
IMG_0062aAfter the first full day of meetings, we convened that evening over at the marina.  They had chartered a yacht so that we could motor around Tampa Bay for a couple hours while eating a fantastic dinner.  The purpose was of course to get to know our coworkers a bit better, but also celebrating the individual successes of the sales team.  One of the highlights of the outing came after the sky darkened and cracked with sprawling splits of lighting – a phenomenon common enough to merit naming a hockey team after it.
IMG_3939aThe next day we got hands-on with a number of our products.  For this we drove an hour south to Sarasota to stand out in the sweltering sun, and tempt death in the absurd combination of heat and humidity.  For many of us, we don’t get to see our products in action, so the crash course is always appreciated  I was definitely dressed with the wrong vein of clothing.

Our bus broke down on the way back to Tampa, though we were able to keep mostly on schedule by continuing presentations while stranded on the side of the road.  Our new bus did show up eventually to whisk us away.  That afternoon we had a team building activity scheduled that required us to form various materials into a shipshape vessel, and then race it against our peers.  About an an hour was scheduled for the build, and the crew below crafted the S.S. Zero-WHC (for Water-Holding Capacity, an industry term).  We were supposed to put together a chant, but failing to budget adequate time we settled for a mic drop.
IMG_4294aAs the chosen captain, I was perhaps a bit eccentric about a few of the construction points.  My team didn’t see my vision eye-to-eye, but in the end,things turned out well enough.  We had to clear out the pool from the photo above.  There were 6 teams, which allowed for two 1v1 elimination rounds, and then a three person championship regatta.  I hopped into the boat, and very nearly sank it straight away.  I redistributed my weight, tried out a couple of paddling methods, and in the end found something that worked.  The two races went pretty well.  Amusingly, the best boat built was the only to sink.

After that activity, we had one more competition that tasked us with catching water balloons launched from a slingshot.  Our boating prowess did nothing for us this time around. For the rest of the evening, we had a luau on the beach featuring the finest of food, fire-dancing, a few drinks, and later, some makeshift football.  The light was waning, but here was our Profile Products Photo.IMG_4346aI know that it may not look it, but we really did have a lot of productive meetings and other work-related events.  One of Profile’s pillars is that that they want to be a fun company to work for, and to that I’d say they are thus far doing a great job.

Detroit Daytrip for The Rolling Stones

Some time ago it was suggested by my S.O. that we go see the Rolling Stones; we pulled the trigger.  May is a self-confessed fan, and hitting this show would be a dream come true for her.  And for myself, as a fan of music in general, it would be a chance to witness legendary greatness.  We got out of work on Tuesday and cruised right on over to Detroit.Detroit_4054a

We arrived to the Motor City Casino sometime after midnight, and went to walk the gambling floor.  We deserved some drinks after the long haul in the car, though we both managed to refrain from donating our money to the house.  That next morning is when the tourism really kicked off.  May insisted that the purpose of this trip was to see the Stones, and not pack the day full of everything else (as I tend to do).  That said, we did still maximize our time.Detroit_9178

Our first stop was to Astro Coffee, where the former barista and I settled in for some hipster drip and a healthy breakfast.  We took it slow, enjoyed the distinct flavors of our coffees, and started to plan out the rest of the day.  We coordinated to meet with a good friend of mine from my Japan days, and to make a quick jaunt over to Canada.  With plans set, we left to explore Corktown.

The effect of Detroit’s shrinking population and ensuing debt crisis was apparent everywhere.  Although the towering skyscrapers could be seen just a mile or so away, there were enormous swathes of empty green space where buildings had once stood.  One of our stops was to the former Tigers Stadium, site of their 1984 World Series win.  The building was torn down to make room for…nothing, and now all that remains is a rusticated ball diamond and unkempt vegetation.  We did a little shopping before working our way down to gawk at what epitomizes Detroit’s post-apocalyptic vibe – Michigan Central Station.  This awesome old building was built in 1913, closed down in 1988, and now stands as a monument to the glory days gone by.  There have been numerous proposals for how to redevelop and re-purpose the structure, but nothing has yet materialized.


IMG_0107After a bit we connected with Saad and got in the line to go to Canada.  They weren’t able to stamp our passports, but I was able to add a couple of notes to my currency collection.  Our first order of business was getting food.  This was Canada of course, so naturally we stopped for kebabs.  To May’s and my delight, they also had poutine on the menu which is actually a Quebec staple.  None of us had had it before, but this was the only ‘Canadian’ dish they had, so we gave it a whirl.  They unfortunately dressed it with the less authentic shredded cheese, rather than the curds that should adorn the schlopp.  We did at least add some flair to the meal by washing the grease down with Canada Dry.  For the record, this dish essentially consists of french fries, gravy, and cheese.  Savory yes, but one could not possibly finish it all without experiencing a complete degradation of self down to ‘louche status’.

facesWe went on over to the Canadian Club distillery for a tour.  None of us had a particular fondness for their whiskey, but it was something to do.  It wound up being a very informative historical tour that brought us through a mansion and explained the origins of the company.  Thanks to prohibition in the ’20s there were plenty of ties to the mob, and there was even a room set up for Al Capone.  Ask me if you’d like to hear the origin of the phrase ‘the real McCoy’, or where the word cocktail comes from.  As you can clearly see, Saad and I were having a great time!  At the end of the tour, we did have the opportunity to do some tasting.  We were offered their newest Canada-only Maple infused whiskey, and also a higher-end rye variety.  Both were good, and I was pleased to find that they had poured a few too many samples…
Detroit_4249We finished up our tour and meandered on back to the USA for dinner.  Slow’s BBQ had a superb selection of [Michigan] beers, and according to Saad, the best food around.  May and I each wisely went with the brisket, and Saad opted for some lame sandwich, but the beauty of the meal was in all of the sides that came with it.  They had six sauces at that made each bite a different experience.Detroit_9948
Detroit_8436Stuffed, we bid adieu to Saad and transitioned into the next stage of the evening, which truly was the purpose for our coming all the way out here – it was time for The Rolling Stones!  May had long wanted this experience, and it fell on me to make it happen.  We started by working towards Comerica Park, at which point we had to get a concert T.  I didn’t mind, but the 40 minutes that it took felt a bit excessive.  The shirts were Detroit-specific, and made for a pretty cool souvenir.  The excitement you see us wearing is from having finally escaped the shirt queue, and in anticipation of our pre-concert visit to the Detroit Beer Company.  We made it in just as Walk the Moon was playing their lone hit ‘Shut up and Dance’.
IMG_0125There were certainly some loonies seated around us – people who had been in the concert game for far too long.  Soon enough, the lights dimmed, and the first notes ripped across the sound system.  It was hard to believe that these legends were actually there before us.  Their plan was to play music from the Sticky Fingers album, a Motown cover, a few by Keith Richards, and then that smattering of hits that they couldn’t possible ignore.  I had done some homework in the weeks before to familiarize myself with the album, but was amazed at how many of the songs I knew.  Mick must have changed what he was wearing at least 8 times throughout the show.

Prior to the show, my dad had mentioned that he was at their ‘Farewell Tour’ back in ’82, and now 33 years later they are still just going for it.  Spindly Mick moved around a bit like he was wearing heels, but still far more spryly than any other 72 year old I know.  At one point he mentioned that this was their 9th time through Detroit, with the first being 51 years earlier, back in 1964!  They certainly wont be going for another 50, so getting such a legendary show under out belts now was a great call.  They closed out with ‘Satisfaction’, and these happy concertgoers definitely got some.
Detroit_8869With the fun over, all that remained was navigating the crowds and dark Detroit streets back to the car.  We stopped for some munchies and soda to keep up us up and running, and then at 1am finally began our return to Chicago.  Both May and I were ecstatic about work the next morning, but by putting up with some mere exhaustion saved ourselves us the utter waste of taking another valuable vacation day.  Traffic was sparse throughout the wee hours, so we made good time.  We even managed a couple hours of sleep before having to report for duty.  It’s amazing how much can be packed into 36 hours.

Chicago Beer & Burgers

With the grandiose plan of craft beers and burgers, things were shaping up to be a noteworthy day.  May and I drove to Logan Square and walked on into Revolution Brewing.  They were busy, and we didn’t feel like waiting.  Some brisk walking and a short jog took us to the site of their actual brewing just in time to make a tour.  Things started out on the right foot with a citrus tinged IPA, and then we were led through the production & packing floors.  All was good, but we were ready to start sampling their offerings.  We tried the Rosa, Triple Fist, Fist City, and 1ZEnuf, with the Triple being our mutual favorite.  I’ve been assembling a collection of glassware from the different breweries I visit for my bachelor pad, so I snagged one from here, and then another from Half Acre Brewery, our next stop.IMG_0074IMG_0091

This brewery is certainly smaller than Revolution, but their Daisy Cutter IPA is a favorite of May’s.  Their smallest sizes are a larger 8 oz size for only 3 dollars, which makes sampling a bit more substantial – much better than the tiny sips most places offer up.  We opted for the Daisy Cutter of course, and also Akari, Vallejo IPA, and some 4 others whose names are not coming to me.  We reminisced back to our early days in Chicago, and then set out for dinner.  The artwork for each of the beer labels was consistent only in their absurdity.


Not too far away was a burger restaurant I’d seen named as being one of the top 5 in the US.  I’m not much of a foodie, but this was the sort of meal I could get excited about.  We got there and were told it would be a 30 minute wait, and unlike most restaurants they weren’t overestimating the time.  We went to the dingiest saloon around to wait and order some brews on the lower end of the spectrum – ‘I’d recommend Special Import Lager, it’s neither special nor import’.  Sold!  We needed to reset our baseline flavor profile to as near zero as possible, so as to fully realize the dynamics of our upcoming burgers.


We were finally seated in a haze of smoke coming off the nearby grill, and blaring heavy metal music.  I wouldn’t call it the ideal dining environment, but with such a reputation, they can do as they please.  45 minutes had passed, and May was on the verge of stepping out.  The smoke and her extreme hunger were both eroding her patience.  At just the last moment, these masters of suspense swooped in with our two glorious burgers.  I went with the Plague Burger.  Most burgers that claim to be spicy are no sweat, though this one left me panting.


Our eyes grew enormous, and at this point we chose to pause any attempts at communication and just focus on our food.   May isn’t generally the biggest of eaters, and I can usually rely on getting to eat whatever she can’t.  We shared some bites back and forth, but I was impressed that she put that whole thing away.  May also earned a few respect points by ordering her burger medium rare.  This meal was the ultimate in umami, and by far the best burger that either of us could recall.  We’ve both come to enjoy how Chicago offers so much with which we can fill our weekends: food, fun, and whatever we’re in the mood for.