interesting and useful … — David Gibson (dbpg@*.net)MMM
CHICAGO, A visit to
Icono Clast and Girlfriend
We changed 'planes in Denver for an uneventful
trip to get to the BLOOMINGTON,
Minnesota, hotel with time enough to go to a nearby mall to dance a bit.
.A full and satisfying too-short trip —
September 6-16, 2002.
MMMWe had some
trouble finding a place to go. A query to a very muscular and handsome
bald-atop but pony-tail'd man resulted in her gaily skipping along,
hand cupped in
his arm, as he led us to a place where he told the gatekeepers “They're
me” showed us the venue's various rooms and at a bar told the tender to
them on my tab” before disappearing. We have no idea who he was nor why
lavished such great courtesy and generosity upon us. We were a cheap
though, she having a juice and I a non-alcoholic beer.
MMMWe were in
Bloomington to attend a gathering of her family, the result of a
that proved to be quite pleasant. Even though we were near MINNEAPOLIS for two nights, we never got to see any of the town. I was
quite disappointed but in a position where I had to go along with the
situation presented without complaint so I did. It wasn't hard.
Everyone was very nice and everything was quite pleasant.
Sunday morning we hit The Road from Bloomington
through WISCONSIN in a comfortable back
seat facing CHICAGO.
different world back there. Oh, there are rolling hills but they're
They're just large enough to keep ‘expansive’ out of view descriptions
but not large enough to have much character. Hither and yon were silos,
barns, cows, houses, horses, corn, and
possibly sugar beet, crops. For most of the more than 400 miles we saw
but ribbons of first-class asphalt and veils of tiny little small trees
just big enough to hide their secrets.
MMMThe front seat passenger was one of her
sisters, the driver the sister's husband. They proved to be extremely
and generous hosts to their home town of Chicago even though they live
in RIVERSIDE, a Frederich Law
sub-urb of 8900 people that's really a park with lovely, highly varied
and interesting, houses imposed upon it. The horizontal plane is like a
cartoon: no straight lines. It is said that even some long-time
get lost in there.
MMMA knock on
the door was from a petitioner soliciting signatures to keep the gas-
powered street lights. Everyone signed it.
dinner was at a Bohemian restaurant. It was very inexpensive. Because
the food was unknown to us San Franciscans, we found it, uhhh,
Our first day started with an architectural
tour from the NAVY PIER on the Chicago
River. We chose the lower deck to escape the Sun's rays but not the
humidity. Although there were many well-placed speakers, most of what
we heard sounded mumbled, mangled, and muddled. Much of what came
ungarbled I had to “translate” to the beautiful and elegant Brazilian
woman seated next to us.
MMMAt the end of the
tour I was furious because we had basically just had a boat ride for
which I had absolutely no use. We learned next to nothing, deriving so
benefit from the trip that my rage caused me to send her to complain to
someone. He proved to be the tour guide who cheerfully said “Oh, I
turned the volume down” and that really set me off. She dragged me away
before the cops did. [“Isn't that a bit of an exaggeration?” she asked.
“Yeah. So. What's yer point?”] A proper business would have offered to
take us on the next tour
or offer a refund. It is not a proper business.
over to the MAGNIFICENT MILE of Michigan
Avenue for an afternoon stroll. The first thing that caught my eye was
adult toy store that I knew from catalogues. That was fun.
in to see the lobbies of several buildings including the Chicago
and Wrigleys. At the WATER TOWER was an exhibit of photographs of Chicagoans including Studs
Terkel, Hugh Hefner, and Sally Rand. We really
MMMWe knew about
Chicago's Deep Dish Pizza and had been told to also have a hot dog.
There were no vendors on Michigan Avenue but a transit worker directed
us "two blocks". It was a walk-in place, not a stand, but the hot dog
we had was delicious.
On return to the Avenue, we thanked the transit worker and told him
we'd gone. He was delighted, enthusiastic handshakes and backpats all
MMMWe came across
a barber-shop attired Chicago Jazz quartette playing on the wide
sidewalk. When we stopped to listen, the leader announced “courtesy of
the City of Chicago”, took a step toward us and broadly gestured as he
said “Dancing's allowed”. “HehHeh” chuckled I into her ear. “He knoweth
not to whom he spake.” As they con- cluded the number they were
playing, I dramatically removed
the light jacket I was wearing and threw it aside a plant and equally
dramatically directed her to remove her jacket and purse. The timing
was good. I requested “a shuffle beat around 120” that did not cause a
blink. They chose the Prima chart of Just a Gigolo
and, when they saw we could hit the breaks, threw in a few extras. It
was as good a dance as the circumstances allowed. We didn't draw an
audience but the quartette was very appreciative of us as were we of
MMMTrying to do
our hosts a favor by taking a bus to get close to home, we followed the
directions of a local cop. Well, the directions were wrong, we learned
after a 90- minute bus ride, but we got to see a bit of Chicago's CHINATOWN and pass through a couple of Chinese and Mexican
a lovely in-home affair.
The next day was absolutely thrilling for it
was spent at the ART INSTITUTE OF CHICAGO.
We saw little more than the Expressionists and Surrealists
but Wow! I doubt that I've ever seen so many Monets in one
There was Sunday on Grande Jette by Seurat, Van Gogh's
beautiful self portrait and his astounding bedroom scene as well as
other works. Degas was represented by the largest of his
I've ever seen and a couple of paintings, too. Several paintings by Gaugin,
of whom I'm not a fan, but one painting that I really liked. Of course
were Picassos and Dalís (aren't there always?).
And many, many others each of whom you would recognize. I was surprised that I'd previously seen so many of the
paintings but, then, they do travel.
MMMOne of my
favorite Surrealists is Yves Tanguy. The first of his paintings
I ever saw, Second Thoughts, was when a child. I'd since seen
few of his works as they're spread all over the place. I think I saw
in Paris, one in New York, and two in Washington. The Art Institute has
at least five including one large screen.
end of our time there, I reälized that we'd not seen Grant Wood's
American Gothic. While making a mad dash to see it, we
were stopped by works by Tamayo, Rivera, Edward
Hopper's Nighthawks, Giaccometti sculptures, Jackson
Pollock, Alexander Calder, Chagall's
stained glass and other works. But we did get there.
MMMDinner was a
quite-good ersatz Mexican buffet at a very pleasant golf club founded
about 120 years ago.
we borrowed one of the household cars to go to see the BUCKINGHAM
FOUNTAIN, a large one reminiscent of the Magic
Fountain. We arrived for the end of the show. Another started but was
almost immediately shut off because there were so few of us there. We
had a pleasant 45-minute wait for the day's last show. The speakers
blared forth with America The Beautiful (I think)
followed by an outstanding Gershwin medley to conclude with a
rousing Stars and Stripes Forever. It was very nice.
MMMWe ended the
day with a visit to the Drake Hotel's lovely lobby.
On the way to Frank Lloyd Wright's OAK
PARK home, we saw an open door at the CHENEY
HOUSE, a 1913 effort by Charles E. White, Jr.,
so I dropped in. People preparing for an event greeted me and let me
wander whither I chose in the lovely and historic home set in a formal
garden. The 1970 Survey of Historic Buildings in Oak Park described it as a “simplified rectilinear design of first
rank in architectural quality, significance, and originality”.
MMMThe tour of the
Frank Lloyd Wright home was excellent and very informative. Being in
Oak Park, where many of his earliest residential efforts can be seen,
it quite special.
[A sunny afternoon in VIENNA
I encountered a sidewalk sandwich board saying “Art Exhibit” with an
arrow indicating an opening in a fence. I went through and was
immediately stunned by a large black sculpture of an enormously
Black woman with her hands behind her back having just broken the
that bound her wrists. Thirty some-odd years later, I saw her at the
Hirschhorn(sp). On the grand stairway at the Art Institute of Chicago
is a small torso that looks identical in all but scale.
garden also had the first Giaccometti I ever saw, his Diogenes.
And there were stained glass windows by Chagall that were on their way
don't, and didn't, know what that garden exhibit was all about but it
seems to have been an important one. It was indisputably memorable. I
I knew more about it. Do you know how that might be done as I could
determine the approximate date?]
addition to the in-house tour, one can take a talking wand to tour the
neighborhood seeing about a dozen Wright wrought works.
TEMPLE absolutely stunned me. We sat in the Temple
for quite a long while as I couldn't believe that it was completed in
1908, seven years before the Panama- Pacific International Exposition,
the last great event of Century XIX.
MMMI sat there
squinting m'eyes and scrunching my body and trying ever-so-hard to bend
m'mind into seeing with 1908 eyes. I fidgeted in this row and that,
high and low, left and Wright. I can't imagine how that room, “among
the most important of Century XX”, looked to people born in the
1830s-1890s, sitting in that room in 1908.
MMMTo the people
of Oak Park, I was told, it wasn't such a big deal as they lived among
Wright's works. Well, I just can't believe that. I mean, that was a
time when public buildings were Greek/Roman Revivals, Beaux Arts, and
perhaps an Art Deco brick or two. In San Francisco, we were building
Victorians and Queen Anns and Edwardians and our magnifi- cent Beaux
Arts (Daniel Burnham)
Civic Center wasn't yet on a sketch pad. The fashions of men and women,
in 1908, were similar to what they'd been during the Civil War and
to undergo a major change for at least another decade. Wright
nary a suggestion, that I could see, of anything that had come before
Western architecture. I was just plain gaga, enthralled, thrilled,
incredulous. 1908! Shee-it! 1908! Damn! 1908! Whew! 1908!
[When we returned to civilization, we paid a visit
to what was built as V.C.Morris Company's retail outlet on Maiden Lane,
now a commercial gallery. It precedes Manhattan's Guggenheim by a few
but is clearly a predecessor. It was there that I saw a man pumping the
hand of a black-hatted other thanking him for saving his life. The
was obviously puzzled by the thanker who went on to say that he was in
Imperial Hotel when the 'quake hit.]MMM
The CHICAGO CULTURAL CENTER is another glorious building with an interior similar to
those found at the Library of Congress and San Francisco's Main Post
We just loved it. We were there to visit the MUSEUM OF
BROADCAST COMMUNICATIONS that might not be much fun
born after 1950 but was a trip down mem'ry lane for us, a revisit to
days when families sat together listening to the sounds coming from an
AM-only console: music, news, sit-coms, comics, mysteries, dramas, etc.
open the door to Fibber McGee's closet and get the expected
result. One can enter Jack Benny's safe with an unexpected, but
MMMIt was fun
for us and we highly recommend it. Whether younger people will enjoy it
we cannot say but it does have general historical value as the early
of television fea- tured the same programs and performers as the late
of radio, many of them as well known today as they were sixty years ago.
FIELD has a lovely Louis Comfort Tiffany
dome that we hadn't known existed and were thrilled to see even though
I wouldn't call it one of his better works.
From there, I took the elevated train to the
airport. En route, I had the pleasure of an aerial view of many
neighborhoods and interesting structures.
MMMAt the airport,
I took the hotel's van to move in for the next few days of dancing and
competitions at the Mid-America Just Dance Swing Dance Championships.
She went home
with her sister. They joined me for dinner and dancing at the hotel's
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