I love Ganz Grosse Geister.

While I prefer to call them the macaroni and cheese men, the three figures in Thomas Schutte’s 1954 artwork Ganz Grosse Geister represent spirits. These 16 foot high figures are both solid and nebulous; otherworldly and temporal. I like to imagine a narrative for them involving an evil corporate executive from Kraft, perhaps melting his creations with a giant magnifying glass. This is not the art world’s sanctioned interpretation, mind you, so if you show up at the Museum of Contemporary Art (where they rise above the entrance steps) babbling about yellow noodles, you will get the crazy eye.

Dance, puppets, dance! MUAHAHAHA!

I love “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

It’s not because I think it’s the best movie ever. It’s not because I have some fuzzy memory of watching it as a kid (I didn’t see it until I was in junior high school). It isn’t because of the soundtrack, or Matthew Broderick, or any of the usual reasons.

I love watching “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off” because it’s a Chicago movie, and moreover, it depicts the Chicago of my childhood. Although I moved around a lot as a kid, bouncing between neighborhoods and suburbs, going downtown was always an amazing experience. The parade scene alone is packed with the things I remember seeing with my grandma when we went downtown right before the first time she took me to see Lake Michigan–the seemingly-dizzying heights of the elevated tracks, ever-present celebrations, and Calder’s Flamingo in Federal Plaza. The faces in the crowd are also faces I might have seen on the city streets as a child, because the extras weren’t cast from Hollywood head shots but are actual locals recruited with radio ads.

Then there’s the Art Institute scene, featuring great works including Edward Hopper’s Nighthawks, The Child’s Bath by Mary Cassat, Jacques and Berthe Lipchitz by Amedeo Modigliani, and Marc Chagall’s America Windows. Making this scene even closer to my art nerd heart, it contains an instrumental version of The Smiths’ “Please, Please, Please Let Me Get What I Want.”

The vast majority of this movie was filmed in the greater Chicago metropolitan area, including many extant locations you can visit today. For a closer look and information about how to find them, visit this page on movie-locations.com.

There’s so much to love about this film, even if you’re not a big John Hughes fan. This week, Comedy Central is airing one of the less bowdlerized versions I can remember seeing on basic cable  if you’d like to watch it yourself.

I love Oz Park.

Lyman Frank Baum lived in many places throughout his life, but he resided at 1667 North Humboldt
Boulevard in Chicago during the year 1899. That was the year he wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. It is only fitting, then, that the city named a park in his honor.

Oz Park is located several miles East of the neighborhood where Baum penned his famous novel. While the area is tony now, it was originally established as part of an urban renewal project in the 1970’s. It boasts “Dorothy’s Playlot,” the “Emerald Garden,” fields for soccer and baseball, a basketball court, tennis courts, and a sled hill. It is dog-friendly, contains an ice cream stand, and has been a venue for Movies In The Park.

What makes it unique are the statues of Oz characters around the park’s perimeter. Based on illustrator W.W. Denslow’s original drawings for the book, they captivate and charm everyone who sees them (except some cold-hearted jerks from New York and California who two-starred them on Yelp).

Here are photos of Dorothy and Toto and the Scarecrow, courtesy of the Chicago Park District.

Image

Image

This photo of the park’s official marker is from the Chicago Historical Society.

Image