Tag Archives: Kensington Gardens

Chicago vs London: Round Two – Cityscape

It’s tough loving two cities. My London followers get annoyed when I live-tweet Blackhawks games (Jonathan Toews is my pretend boyfriend, after all). My Chicago followers get annoyed when I live-tweet Question Time. I miss so much about London, including Sloane Square, the KR and Soho. But I know there are so many things about Chicago I’ll miss when leave, like Logan Square (full disclosure: my home), the Mag Mile (or Magnificent Mile, aka Michigan Ave., for out-of-towners), and Boystown. Both cities are wonderful to call home, but which comes out on top? I’ve judged them like I’m Sharon Osbourne, and when it comes to a cityscape, only one can reign supreme. But which? Let’s find out. (That’s some lazy writing, but I’m tired and on beer number three, so it’s all I can muster. Sod off.)

Chicago!

Chicago!

1. Architecture. Merchandise Mart. The Gherkin. St Paul’s. St James’. The Willis Sears Tower. The Shard. Both cities are possess magnificent buildings, and I’ve been privileged to walk in the shadows and walk down the halls of many of them. Ever been on the floor of the House of Commons? Breathtaking. The history! The craftsmanship! The sheer grandeur! But I’ve also been to Robie House, amazed at the geometrical genius of Frank Lloyd Wright. Chicago is renowned for its architecture. Its skyline, jutting out of Lake Michigan’s shores like a mass of Gothic lighthouses, is one of the wonders of the world. And while we may lack the gravitas of London, where every corner you turn around something notable happened, our neighbourhoods are just as gorgeous as the Loop. I’ve been to Stoke Newington. Lovely neighbourhood. But architecturally, it doesn’t hold a candle to Logan Square. (Still, the view of London from Primrose Hill is a sight to behold.)

Score: Chicago 1 – 0 London

My feet. Kensington Gardens. 2013.

My feet. Kensington Gardens. 2013.

2. Parks/Greenspace: Londoners pride themselves on their parks, and rightly so. If you enter Kensington Gardens via the Queensway, you’ll find my favourite spot to read anywhere in the world. The thistle fields are breathtaking, and the way they scratch your soles in the hot summer sun can really touch your soul. Then there’s Hyde Park, St James’ Park, Hampstead Heath, and a plethora of neighbourhood parks. When you think of Chicago, you don’t think of greenery. But its aplenty. Our parks rival Paris, in particular the symetrically planned and imacuately pruned Grant Park and Lincoln Park, both of which have preserved the lakeshore in grandeur, harkening more to Marie-Antoinette than the Midwest. Our boulevards likewise invoke the Champs-Élysées, and we likewise have a wonderful community parks system. It’s a tossup, because again London has history on its side. However, Chicago has the lake and its beaches. With that, Chicago wins by a hair.

Score: Chicago 2 – 0 London

underground

3. Transport. I feel like Cinderella whenever I’m in London, because I have to leave the ball well before I’m ready, and usually before I’ve gotten Prince Charming’s number. Cabs are too expensive, and the Tube shuts down at dusk, it seems. Sure, London has great night buses, but that can make a 3 mile journey into an hour-and-a-half ordeal. Chicago, on the other hand, has two train lines (the Red and the Blue) which run 24 hours. Our cabs are affordable. And after our city burned to the ground, we were able to rebuild on a grid, making navigating easy. London carriages offer cushier seating, more space, and are, frankly, safer for standing passengers. It also has an iconic map and “Mind the Gap.” Of course, both London and Chicago have both sold their fare collecting souls to Cubic, so in this way are both screwed. Still, my Oyster card works. My Ventra card? Well, I’m lucky if I can get through the turnstyle after 35 tries.

Score: Chicago 2 – 1 London

London may have won in entertainment, but Chicago had its night tonight. There’s no denying; this city is gorgeous. It’s the most beautiful North American city, and a wonderful place to call home. From May through October, anyway. Now we’re halfway through November and I want to be anywhere but here. It’s freaking cold. But at least we don’t shut down for a little bit of snow. Just sayin’.

Overall score: Chicago 1 – 1 London

Advertisements

10 things you may not know about Skylar Baker-Jordan (or, I’ve got to stop drinking on a Monday)

Like any good writer, I respect deadlines.

Like any good writer, I sometimes get drunk on a Monday night whilst dancing around my kitchen to Glee.

I overslept this morning, and after yesterday’s brouhaha on Twitter-suffice to say, my blogroll brings all the prats to the yard (damn right, they’re dumber than yours)-I really want to lighten the mood. Plus, I’m exhausted. Whilst I may not have the energy to write about Nigel Farage or racist murals (not one in the same, at least in this instance), I’m never so tired that I can’t talk about myself. Luckily Facebook gives us this lovely little game where you tag me with a number and I tell you a certain amount about myself.

Nobody tagged me, but let’s pretend. My number? Whatever I want. We’ll see how far I get before this bores me.

Just kidding. I never bore myself.

1. When I get drunk I sometimes develop this very awful hybrid English accent, which my mate Nick from Chelmsford once described as a cross between Hampshire and Hell. (I can’t remember his exact words, but that’s the gist.) In university I actually would speak in this accent, partly because I thoroughly enjoyed annoying the people in Kentucky who screamed “YOU’RE FROM HYDEN!” and partly because I really do pick up accents quite easily. That’s also why I don’t have a southern accent anymore.

2. I’m not really sure where my love of Britain comes from. I first told my father I was going to move to London as a child, but I think my earliest concrete memory of the UK is Princess Diana’s funeral. A few days before she died I started sixth grade, and my teacher had me tell him a celebrity I’d like to meet. I said her. After that came the Spice Girls, David Beckham, and even EastEnders. I devoured British culture, and I suspect I was so keen on it because it allowed me to, in my mind, move to a different country and escape my unhappy childhood. Britain was a literal fairytale, and it kept me going through some very dark times.

3. That being said, I don’t have some idealised portrait of Britain in my mind. If anything, I’m more critical of it than ever. I essentially majored in Britain in university, including classes in its politics, its sociology, and of course, a degree in its history. Having as many British friends as I do, it’s hard to maintain an Anglophile’s Disneyland fantasy. I see the UK for what it is, warts and all. If anything, this has actually made me love it more. I see a place that values fair play but perhaps takes it too far, that strives for inclusion but struggles with assimilation, but that at the end of the day just wants everyone to get on and have a cuppa. And I like that.

4. Perhaps the most controversial thing I’ll ever say, but I think the Geordie accent is sexy.

Chris Ramsey in all his Geordie sexiness.

Chris Ramsey in all his Geordie sexiness.

There’s nothing hotter than T glottalisation. I don’t know exactly what it is, but something about that raw Northern bit makes me crave a raw Northern bit.

5. Speaking of controversial, I will not talk of Northern Ireland or the Troubles in Chicago. It’s too dangerous. I nearly got into a bar fight with an Irishman once, simply for stating I’m ethnically English. The Irish in Chicago are extremely touchy about this issue, and they’re extremely violent when you’re not. Have you ever had a six-foot-three Irishman lunging towards you anywhere outside the bedroom? It’s terrifying.

6. One of the most romantic moments of my life involved Kensington Gardens at night. Don’t ask me how we got in, but if you haven’t strolled by the Serpentine in the midnight or laid in strong arms with the thistle tickling you, I insist you do it now. Report back. Just don’t have sex in public, because that’s tacky.

7. In brainstorming for my as-yet unwritten and nowhere-near published first novel, I stumbled upon a lovely town called Barnsley. Its people have reached out to me, helping me get to know their city and welcoming me into the fold, even though I’m an ocean and a continent away. I cannot wait to visit, cannot wait to taste a Yorkshire wrap, cannot wait shop at the Poundstretcher on the High Street, and to take a selfie in front of the Barnsley Town Hall. And I can’t wait to write this novel, though I’m secretly terrified, because now more than ever, I want to do Barnsley justice and do it proud.

#barnsleyisbrill

#barnsleyisbrill

8. I am sarcastic in life and vicious in comedy, but I refuse to be nasty except on stage. This extends to politics, Twitter, and yes, the X Factor. I will never tell you who my bottom two are, because I’m afraid they’ll see. I won’t even watch until the top 12 because I don’t like seeing people made national jokes. Cringey television isn’t my cup of tea, and I don’t understand how people can enjoy watching others’ misery. Who are we? Germans?

9. My most successful writing has been voyeuristic, “Sex and the City” style columns and features, where I put my private life in the public sphere. I’m quite good at it, but I refuse to do it anymore, because I’ve become innately aware that my grandparents are reading what I write. I have too much respect for them and their southern sensibilities to, in good conscience, do it anymore.

10. That being said, I’d totally shag Chris Ramsey.