Who: Lori & Monica

What:
2 days/1 night in the Windy City

Where:
Chicago, Winnetka

When
: June 28-29, 2016

Why:
Zack Morris
Sites Visited:
While You Were Sleeping            Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    Church                                  Married with Children
    Lucy's Apartment                   Home Alone
    Train Station                          Saved by the Bell
    Riverside Walk
    Peter's Apartment
Rookie of the Year
What Women Want
The Vow

If there's anything I know I need in my life, it's a TV pop-up shop. Find an abandoned building, fill it with the replica of a TV show set - any TV show set -- and I'm there. Lines, weather, distance, doesn't matter. I'm coming.

In 2014, I waited in the freezing cold rain at 6am on a Saturday to sit on the couch from Friends.



In 2015, I waited 3 hours in the blazing heat to hang out in Seinfeld's apartment.



And in 2016, I bought a plane ticket, flew 800 miles, rented a car and drove to go to the diner from Saved by the Bell.



It all began several months prior. Word got out that the diner was coming. I read all the articles. People sent me more articles. I put it in the back of my mind and went on with my life.

Then the diner officially opened. There were photos. People sent me more photos. The whole place looked AWESOME. And I knew I had to go.

But to go it alone? Could I ever be that crazy? No, not yet, at least. To do this adventure I would have to find someone almost as equally crazy as I was.

Enter Monica.

On multiple occasions, Monica had dressed up as Kelly Kapowski for Halloween. She owned all the seasons on DVD. She studied hard to participate in Saved by the Bell bar trivia and then almost had a breakdown when she didn't know all the answers (I was there. I saw it.).

On a scale of 1 to Zack-Morris lunacy, Monica was at exactly the level I needed her to be. Tickets booked!

To optimize on cheapness, we decided on a 6am flight, one overnight stay and an 8pm flight back home the next day. That way we'd have ample time to do whatever we wanted to do and not spend a lot of money doing it. I had already been to Chicago three other times before this. I didn't need to go nuts.

All I really needed to do... was right the wrongs of my Chicago past.


So right off the plane, on a lovely Tuesday morning, Monica and I got in our rented Hyundai Accent, and headed straight to the Lord's house. The week before, I had emailed the church on their website to tell my tale of woe, and the Director of Liturgy took pity on me and said I could get access to the chapel. #blessed


The chapel, which in the movie was supposed to be in a hospital was just to the left of the main church's altar (also featured in the film), and a very nice lady named Denise walked me to it. Although her standing in the corner watching my every move made me a wee bit nervous, I thankfully still managed to turn the Eden Chapel into a Next Top Model photo shoot and have a redemption better than Shawshank's.  

(While You Were Sleeping church location)

Was I going back to the Bronx plagued with fits of rage every time I watched the most joyful movie of the 90s?? No, I was NOT!


Filled with the spirit of Sandra Bullock, I thanked Denise profusely for allowing me this sacred time, and Monica and I headed off to enjoy more standard Chicago tourist attractions.



In 1993, 12-year old Henry Rowengartner had a fall and the tendons in his arm healed so tightly that he became a good enough pitcher to play for the Cubs. Funky butt-loving and underwear snitching ensued and it all happened right here at Wrigley.  

Unfortunately, at the time of our visit, the stadium was setting up for a concert so no tours of the inside were being held, and access to this:


and this:



were prevented.

Luckily, I was still able to walk away with this:

(Rookie of the Year film location)

So my visit did not turn out to be completely in vain. 


(While You Were Sleeping Lucy's apartment film location)

Sandra Bullock's apartment from While You Were Sleeping! 

As I had already been there two years ago, I didn't technically really need to go there again. But somehow the car just drifted towards it. It was like the universe knew that Monica, who'd only just watched the movie the week before, really needed to see it, and that I really needed to be there with someone other than my douchebag brother, snipping, "Are you done? Are you DONE? Can we GO?"

Twenty-one years after the fact, the apartment complex, even without all the snow patches and Christmas lights looked exactly the same as it did in the film, and I squealed with delight yet again in its presence.



And forced Monica to take lots of pictures.  


(While You Were Sleeping Lucy's apartment film location)

Last year when Monica and I went to Washington DC together, Monica was not so much a fan of these planned movie photo shoots. This year, however after the launch of this website, and with the knowledge that her actions would be documented for tens of people to read, she turned into a regular Annie Leibovitz.



                                                                             (Jump to next While You Were Sleeping location)
Thank you, Monica!


(What Women Want film location)

(What Women Want film location)

(What Women Want film location)

(What Women Want film location)

(What Women Want film location)

It was at these locations that I discovered that while I am a fantastic movie locations model, I am not really the greatest photographer. My angles were never quite where I needed them to be and I felt rushed and very very stressed. 

Thankfully, there is no TV Travels with Monica. Because her website would SUCK.

After that movie was taken care of, we ended our tour of the Chicago suburbs and parked the car at a garage downtown so we could tourist it up like regular commoners.

We went to the John Hancock Observatory and took photos from the 94th floor!


We went to the Disney store and I almost bought a cute frame!


We went to Millennium Park and took little people photos inside the glass ass/bean/cloud!




(The Vow film location)



(Married with Children fountain location)

The growth of Chicago's industry as demonstrated by the many buildings constructed since 1987 really put a damper on my photographic accuracy, but because I'm a professional I struggled to make it work. You're welcome, America... 

We then started our way back to the car, with just a few minor stops in between.





Actually, a line of machines and a swarm of commuters, they could get in the way. 

It was almost as if the CTA was specifically designed to prevent recreational activities inside its structures.


(While You Were Sleeping film location)

It was one of my all-time favorite scenes. Bill and Sandy after being unable to get their truck out of a parking space, took a midnight stroll back to her apartment and began to fall in love. When I had been to Chicago prior to this, I went all over looking for this location. For weeks, I walked all throughout Google maps trying to find it. I never found it. This time, even if it meant me and Monica were going to sleep on the street, I wasn't leaving the downtown area until I was standing in the exact spot Sandy and Bill did during a random night shoot in 1995.

After a very long wrap around the Chicago River area, the first step that got us closer to it: STAIRS. We discovered there were stairs that went straight down to the river level. Bullock and Pullman weren't on the high bridges like I'd originally thought. They had gone down the STAIRS.

Walking the riverside path, I then looked desperately for the pillars that had been so prominently displayed during their walk, but nothing came up. "They probably took them down," Monica told me. "It's been 20 years!" Nice try, Monica. We weren't leaving...

We then looked across the river, and saw it. 


JACKPOT.

It was like the mothership was calling me home, I'd felt such a connection. We went back up the stairs, across a bridge and then back down to where Lucy Eleanor Moderatz showed Jack Callaghan her passport and told him her dreams of going to Florence. I recited a few (several) lines of dialogue to Monica as I freaked out and skipped down the path in delirious merriment. Train station be damned! I had found the riverside! My stalking was complete!


(While You Were Sleeping film location)


After that, it was 6pm, we'd been awake since 2:45am Central Time and we still had a lot more to do. So back to the car to continue on the journey we went!

Across the street from the garage was a TJ Maxx and a Marshalls. Because I'm a nice person I'm not going to discuss how long Monica spent in each of them looking for an item she'd forgotten to pack for her Saved by the Bell outfit. I'm not going to say that I paid for the parking, went to the bathroom and went back to TJ Maxx to pick her up and she still hadn't found what she needed. I'm not going to do that, because that would be wrong. Thirty-five minutes later though... we were off to the Home Alone house!


(Home Alone house location)

Smaller than Monica imaged it to be, she FaceTimed her mom to show off her coolness while I looked for photographic ways to get around the giant fence the owners had put up since my last visit. 

When Monica got off the phone, we scoped out the premises and a man walking three tiny dogs came by and asked if we'd like him to take our picture. 

(Home Alone house location)

Well of course, kind sir! We would love that! 

Then, because I wasn't with my eye-rolling brother of 2014, I decided to maximize my photographic potential.

"This is my house and I have to protect it!"

(Home Alone house location)

"Their cars are still here. They couldn't have gone to the airport!"

                                                             671 Lincoln Ave, Winnetka, IL
                                                                                           (Home Alone house location)

Then I walked across the street to the Murphy house where some Wet Bandits almost ran over the richest child star of our lifetime.

                                                                                 (Home Alone Murphy house location)

After that, we took a 3-minute detour to the town so I could stand where Kevin once ran after shoplifting a toothbrush.

(Home Alone film location)

Winnetka, you never disappoint.



For people without reservations, Saved by the Max reserved 11pm to 1am for walk-ins, so at 10pm we got in the 6-person line and we waited. By 10:55, we'd already made it to the front, and hello, Max!


Dark like a nightclub but filled with nostalgic fun, it was everything I needed a pop-up to be. 



Plus, there was Troy Fromin. From 1991 to 1992, Troy played the lovably dense football player, Ox, and for our fandom pleasure he'd been flown in to bring some extra joy. A few days before, I had messaged Troy on Instagram about my excitement over his upcoming appearance and we bonded over a shared love of movies and the houses that go with along with them. He's my new bestie now. Please don't be jealous.



Within 15 minutes of our being seated, I was served with maybe the most delicious burger I've ever had and Monica and I got to soak in the scenery undisturbed. I've gotta say, it pays to eat dinner at 11:15 off a menu with only 5 items. 




With dinner finished, we then walked around the very tiny establishment and took enough photos to warrant our 800-mile trip of insanity, before heading out of dodge and putting a close to our 22-hour/27,369-steps (thank you, iPhone) day.

The next morning, I woke up at 6:30am because my body rejects anything that's good for it and we made it back downtown 6 hours later for a boat cruise architectural tour.

When asking friends for suggestions on things to do in the Chicago area, two people raved about this architectural tour so much I thought they might have money invested in it. So, always one to help out a friend, I found myself a Groupon and booked myself some seats. Bring it, SeaDog!  

The tour started at 1:15, so with an hour to kill before we boarded, I checked off one of my bucket-list items and ate some authentic Chicago deep dish pizza. In all my trips to the Chicago area, I had never once actually managed to have a taste of this midwestern delicacy and I was eager to try it.


Eh. 

At 1:15, we then took to the sea and our fantastic tour guide, Billy took us on a 75-minute extravaganza of architectural knowledge. Not only did I learn that Batman is a major staple of Chicago movie-shoots, but also that "lunacy" comes from people thinking the moon made people go mad, and that the Chicago river was once so polluted it was able to catch on fire. That's knowledge that'll stick with you even when you're outside the Midwest. Thank you, Billy! 



Once we were off the boat, we then decided to walk along the beach and see if we'd be able to get to this last What Women Want location:


With only an hour to go before we had to head back to the airport, Monica didn't think we'd be able to make it there in time. I told Monica she was an idiot and we forged ahead. 45 minutes later, we weren't even close. Whoops. 





Besides, if I didn't leave at least one more wrong photo to make right, how would I ever be able to justify a trip #5? 

Thanks for the mem'ries, Chicago! Again... 

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