Happy 173rd Birthday Chicago...

Perhaps one of the greatest, and most cherished perks in the world of office jobs is the food -- donuts at meetings, cake for birthdays and special celebrations, breakfasts for departing colleagues, you get the idea. However, ever since we entered another new era of cost-cutting at the museum, those perks (along with the size of the staff), have been dwindling. Nowadays, it seems like the only time we get any special treats is when yet another coworker is saying goodbye, or when I bring my leftover baked goods so that I don't end up eating them all myself. Times are lean around the office, in every sense of the word.

Today, however, presented one of the rare remaining opportunities to satiate our collective sweet tooths on the museum's dime: Chicago's birthday. Every year, the museum hosts a big celebration in honor of the anniversary of the city's founding, complete with singing children's choirs, appearances by local politicians, and, of course, birthday cake. Thankfully, the museum always orders too much cake, so the extras are distributed to the staff after the public gets the initial stab at it. This year's cake was provided by Bleeding Heart Bakery, and although I didn't see what it looked like before it was cut, I was pleased with the vanilla bean cake with vanilla buttercream filling. I usually don't care for bakery cakes, but this one was definitely a pleasant surprise.

So, in honor of the date of my beloved city's founding (and the excuse to eat cake that it provides), here are a few of my favorite quotes about Chicago:

I give you Chicago. It is not London and Harvard. It is not Paris and buttermilk. It is American in every chittling and sparerib. It is alive from snout to tail. - H.L. Mencken

Hog butcher for the world,
Tool maker, stacker of wheat,
Player with railroads and the nation's freight handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of big shoulders.
- Carl Sandburg

It is hopeless for the occasional visitor to keep up with Chicago -- she outgrows his prophecies faster than he can make them. She is always a novelty; for she is never the Chicago you saw when you passed through the last time. - Mark Twain

Chicago is a city of contradictions, of private visions haphazardly overlaid and linked together. If the city was unhappy with itself yesterday -- and invariably it was -- it will reinvent itself today. - Pat Colander

New York is one of the capitals of the world and Los Angeles is a constellation of plastic, San Francisco is a lady, Boston has become urban renewal, Philadelphia and Baltimore and Washington wink like dull diamonds in the smog of Eastern Megalopolis, and New Orleans is unremarkable beyond the French Quarter. Detroit is a one-trade town, Pittsburgh has lost its golden triangle, St. Louis has become the golden arch of the corporation, and nights in Kansas City close early. The oil depletion allowance makes Houston and Dallas naught but checkerboards for this sort of game. But Chicago is a great American city. Perhaps it is the last of the great American cities. - Normal Mailer

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