October 22, 2005

Drunk and Blog

Chicago is certainly my kind of town. The little I saw of it, that is. The little I saw of it that wasn't traffic.

There's a lot of traffic in Chicago. It's worse in Seattle, but I know my way around Seattle so I avoid it. Chicago, we get in a cab, we creep along and honk at people. Creep, honk, creep, honk.

They like honking at people in Chicago. Street signs and stoplights are really considered guidelines, there. Running reds is de rigueur, because by the time the people blocking the intersection during your green clear out it's red again, and so you've got to run 'em to get anywhere. It's like the magazine wars where every magazine wants to be first with the December issue, so now December comes in October.

We actually had a guy honk (a LOT) and roll down his window and throw f-words at us for crossing in a controlled intersection when we had a white "Walk" signal. He wasn't alone; there were three cars behind him as well, all offended that a huge group of pedestrians would dare to be crossing a street with the light in the world-famous(?) Magnificent Mile shopping district. I was so angry I stood in the street and pointed at the "Walk" sign and yelled back. I don't think I was getting into the proper spirit of Chicago.


I'd been asking everyone where I should buy a nice pair of hand-cobbled Italian shoes while I was there, because everyone said the shopping is great and I have a brown pair that need a friend in black. One lady actually had the temerity to say, "Nordstrom's" to which I replied with a whithering, "I am from Seattle." She supplied the implied part of my statement herself: "If you want to shop at Nordstrom's, you'll go to the flagship store." Exactly.

I stayed at the most beautiful hotel ever created, not that I saw a lot of it. After the talk, the first bar, loitering in the street yelling obscenities, the second bar / jazz club, and the all-night authentic taco place, we ended up stumbling in at 5:30AM. My bodyguard and I were like, "Damn... nice place... marble... gold elevators... zzzzz."

Saturday afternoon, while checking out, we did ask the world's greatest concierge where to go shopping for shoes. He was a man of immaculate grooming, English descent, impeccable manners, and strong opinions. He did not dither for a moment. He recommended an Italian-sounding shoe place on the Mile that sold, possibly, the greatest shoes in the world. Do not bother with the salespeople, he said, you must talk only to Alex. He is the manager, and he has a degree in orthotics from Northwest University. Not that I am saying salespeople are less-than-capable, sir, but you know, in fact they are. Nudge and wink.

You think I'm making this up, by I am not. In fact it went on for much longer. This man was so passionate about shoes his eyes glowed. He said he'd invited the manager of this particular establishment to speak at the annual convention of concierges, because he is renowned as an expert in his field.

I realized that my whole life up until that point had just been building up until the moment that I had discovered these shoes. Everything that had happened up until this afternoon - my career, the talk, my trip to Chicago - was merely to guide me to meet this man, so that I could possess the Platonic Ideal of shoes. I would have paid any amount for them.


The second bar we went to was the Green Mill, which is a Chicago institution and was apparently where Al Capone used to hang out. I can see why. It's a gorgeous old joint and if I lived in Chicago I'd go there every day. In Seattle bars close at 2AM by law; we got to Green Mill at 3AM and drank for hours more. The place was absolutely jumping. An ever-varying group of dudes came and went on-stage and would play some REAL jazz then come and sit with the rest of us and drink. I got the feeling if you knew how to blow you could just grab a sax and wander up and nobody would blink. The owner of the place was playing the baritone sax, which was pretty cool, although the drummer really stood out.

Almost every table was full with an incredible mix of people. Chicago is an integrated town. In Seattle we don't consider ourselves racist (that's for Southerners!), but the truth is we're comparitively lily-white, so it's easy to say, "Oh, of course we have no hate. Then again, we pretty much all look like ads for REI."


Adler Planetarium is in a campus of museums and stadiums and gorgeous architecture that makes me realize what a Real City is like. The only previous time I was in Chicago was to see the original King Tut exhibition at the same museum, which gives you an idea of my age and provided a beautiful bit of symmetry, I thought.


The talk itself was a lot of fun. There were people there who had flown in just to listen to a bunch of "independent" developers talk for a few hours. There was a Mac Users' group (with a cute president, who wore a mini-skirt for the event) from Purdue who had driven for six hours just to see us. I can't help but feel we must have been disappointing after that kind of build-up.

I got bought a lot of drinks afterwards by people whose names their own politeness has erased from my mind. The staff at Jak's Tap kept apologizing to me for not being ready for our event, because fifty or so of us showed up two hours late (there were no cabs at the planetarium, and we went an hour long anyways), right before the kitchen closed, and a lot of our people ended up hungry and/or angry. They thought that since I was wearing a nice shirt and had people buying me drinks I was the organizer.

I kept telling them that, no, drunkenbatman was the organizer, I just came to talk. They'd ask, "Who is this drunkenbatman?" And I'd look around and he'd be outside smoking or mashing on some strange girl, so I'd have to say, "Uh, well, I don't see him right now, but he's here..."

Finally Zoe (a very pretty redhead who looked like young Tori Amos without all the issues) decided this was all a bit too convenient, and declared, "You're drunkenbatman, aren't you?"

No baby, no I'm not. But good thing someone is.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Is bodyguard some kind of slang that I'm unaware of? I thought maybe you had taken someone in for the evening, but then you mentioned sleep, so that doesn't seem right.

Tell us more about this bodyguard.

October 22, 2005 10:46 PM

Anonymous Aaron Jensen said...

Well, what about the shoes? Did you buy a pair? Were they as incredible as you expected?

October 22, 2005 10:51 PM

Anonymous Larry Fransson said...

Running red lights, honking, yelling and swearing.... Reminds me of my trip to San Francisco!

October 22, 2005 11:22 PM

Anonymous Daniel J. Wilson said...

If you're ever in England, John Lobb is the cobbler to see.

To see the non-REI ad-looking part of Seattle while still enjoying the luxury of free WiFi, head down to the Columbia City area on Rainier. Tuta Bella has great traditional pizza and The Wellington has great soul food.

October 22, 2005 11:30 PM

Blogger Daniel said...


Thanks for coming out. The whole experience was very fun. I didn't get to buy you any drinks (did hit up DB once) but I did point you to your bodyguard when they were kicking us out of Jak's. Sad that I missed the yelling and Jazz...

Anyway, we all had a blast. Thanks to you and the rest of the crew.

October 23, 2005 8:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wondering where he sent you. I know there's some "decent" places up on oak (supposedly), but altman's or city sole / niche is where most people go for good shoes....depending, of course, on what you seek. I don't really get the hang up on "italian" shoes. Who cares. I'd be more interested in great shoes that'll last for 10 years and look good doing it.

October 23, 2005 9:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I live in Bloomington (home of Purdue's nemesis, Indiana University) which is a couple hours south of Purdue. I can assure you that most young people in Indiana are always looking for an excuse to go to Chicago. So, don't be too flattered... ;) Indianapolis is okay, but Chicago is like 100x better. The only thing Indy has better right now is football. "We have examined the wreckage of the Kyle Orton bandwagon, and there were no survivors." - Aaron Schatz

October 24, 2005 6:34 AM

Blogger Topher said...

Of course my question is: Why the hell don't you have pictures of this mini-skirt cutie and the redhead from the bar? Or rather, if you do, why didn't you share them. Damnit.

October 24, 2005 6:36 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oops. Now it looks like I signed that post as Aaron Schatz. I am not Aaron Schatz, although that might be fun for a while. The last quote in that post, re: Kyle Orton, is attributed to Aaron Schatz.

October 24, 2005 6:38 AM

Anonymous Josh Carter said...

Yes, this is all fine and interesting, but what about the shoes already? For all the spectacular build-up, you just left it hanging. It's the shoes, man, it's the shoes!

(FWIW, totally agree about the traffic in Chicago. When visiting my cousin there, he can actually get around fine, but only because he drives like a bat out of hell. I fear for my life when in a car there.)

October 24, 2005 7:53 AM

Anonymous mboszko said...

Mmm... Zoe.

October 24, 2005 9:12 AM

Anonymous Wendell III said...

Jesus, I don't have nights like that, and I live here. Nice work. Didn't know you were a jazz buff.

October 24, 2005 3:56 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some pics of the wonderful event found on the web....


October 24, 2005 5:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just had a look at the photos on flickr.

Wil defiantely has the best shirt :)

October 24, 2005 10:07 PM

Anonymous Samo Korosec said...

I'll just agree with the people wanting to see the shoes. And I want more shoes and shirt stories. ;)

October 26, 2005 1:11 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Since the Flickr link doesn't render right in OmniWeb 5.1.2 until I start messing about with cmd-minus, try this:

I too am interested in this "bodyguard" concept. I mean, if one hires someone to watch one's ass, doesn't that instead make them a bootyguard?

And what is this "whithering" of which Wil speaks? Being a MacOSXorcist, I have tried cmd-ctrl-D, and this hasn't worked on the webpage, presumably because OmniWeb uses the wrong sort of NSView subclass. So instead I have fired up /Applications/Dictionary.app, and looked it up in that. I didn't find 'whithering'. I did find 'withering'. I also found 'whither', meaning 'to what place or state'. Perhaps Wil was telling her where to go; seems a bit of an overreaction though.

October 29, 2005 8:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure this expert in orthotics was actually a graduate of Northwest University? Are you sure it wasn't Evanston's own Northwestern University? There's a rather large discrepency in prestige between these two universities.

October 30, 2005 5:38 PM

Anonymous Brian Ray said...

With great public transportation in Chicago... leave your car. Take the "L".

October 31, 2005 11:18 AM

Blogger Chris Foresman said...

I finally managed to make the first five listings on Google when you type in shipley's ass. But, I thought I should mention the trading card and the sweet motivational poster I made and posted to flickr. Here are some pics of you, as well as all the pictures from the event.

BTW, this is Becky, PUMUG’s president.

October 31, 2005 9:33 PM

Anonymous Chad said...

It looks like you received a good old helping of Chicago night-life traffic. When I was up in Chicago last year, I was surprised by the lack of honking...but that's because it was daytime! As a Chicago denizen informed me, it's not until the night that all of the interesting and impatient people come out to play.

Thanks to everyone for coming out...it was fun to visit the Adler Planetarium...not to mention that is one of the nicest looking parts of Chicago I've seen, especially with the view of the Chicago skyline.

I didn't even have much trouble getting there. However, I can blame the police for directing me the WRONG way when I was trying to get home...ugh. But I got turned around and got home with no problems. All and all, a great time.

November 02, 2005 8:33 PM

Anonymous Stefan Seiz said...

Need to get my eyes on these shoes. Need to see them. Please email a pic or a link to:
talklists AT index-s DOT de


November 08, 2005 5:25 AM

Anonymous Fijai Cairo said...

Hi Will,
This is way OT but hey what the heck.
I just listened to your cocoa radio wwdc student talk podcast and I thought it was great and utterly hilarious. You could have picked a better sound than the BEEP though.
I love Delicious Library. I don't have much of a library but its an inspirational piece of software. I also use graffle,outliner religiously and the omni foundation & networking have been quite useful. Was your split from OMNI amicable?

November 14, 2005 9:36 AM

Blogger Jenny luo said...

Hello !

October 20, 2006 6:15 AM

Blogger Josh said...

No, I think you in fact WERE very much in the spirit of Chicago to swear and yell in a crosswalk. I do it everyday.

The people here are assholes, but you know that. Now.

March 15, 2007 9:38 PM


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