February 1, 2013

It’s Windy City time!  And windy is definitely the word of the day, with wind chills of -20!  What strange weather this week—high 50’s on Tuesday (which meant I saw people in SHORTS.  Really, I did.  Fifty degree weather messes with Wisconsinites’ minds…it feels like a heat wave.)  And today the ‘actual’ temperature is minus 6, but the meteorologists gleefully insist on letting us all know that it FEELS like minus 20 outside.  Believe it or not, I can figure that out for myself as soon as I step outside!
With no extra excitement to finish off the week…no additional backyard owl sightings, no front yard fox appearances, and nothing at all worth mentioning in the side yard (except mounds of snow) I’m off to the big city this weekend for a little fun and relaxation.  I have an incredibly generous friend who shares an opera ticket with me each year, and we look forward to our annual excursion to Chicago for music, museums, and shopping (I tried to think of another ‘m’ word but evidently my creative side has already closed shop for the day).   We have our favorite shops—mostly consisting of bookstores and indy art stores, and we have a wonderful time exploring Michigan Avenue.  Last year we visited the Art Institute, but I must confess we were a bit unruly—we simply couldn’t get serious about the exhibitions in the modern wing and we laughed our way through the exhibit.  I’m afraid I’m a bit staid and pedestrian when it comes to art—give me a Monet or Degas and I’m quite happy.  Modern art?  I always feel like someone is pulling my leg. 

Untitled, 1995, Robert Gober

Hang Up
The Hang Up, Eva Hesse, 1966


This weekend we are looking forward to the Lyric Opera’s performance of Puccini’s La Boheme, where his beautiful melodies will transport us back in time to Paris’s Latin Quarter.  I imagine the struggling young artists will feel quite at home—icy cold Parisian garrets on stage, icy cold Chicago streets outside!  But we’ll all stay warm with the wild passion, unbridled emotions, tumult and ecstasy on stage.  Of course the ending is sad, because it’s an opera, and that’s what operas do.

But the Lyric always has amazing productions, and we’ll talk about it all the way to our favorite Italian restaurant (which, by the way, was also Al Capone’s favorite Italian restaurant…how’s that for name dropping?!), where we will feel decadent and order wine AND dessert at 11 pm., a time when most assuredly if we were at home we would already be tucked in bed with our flannel pajamas!

I'll share my adventures in the big city with you next week.  Until then, look for my 'favorite thing' post tomorrow morning, have a wonderful weekend and stay warm!  I didn't want to be too predictable and use Carl Sandburg's poem today, so instead here is a poem by Clifton King, who is searching for Sandburg's Chicago.

Finding Chicago

I wanted to write poetry like Carl Sandburg.
I wanted to write about big cities and small towns,
about open prairies and rivers in the sky.
I wanted to write about the people:
plumbers, politicians, poets,
but I’d never been east of Tucson.
So I quit my dead end job,
closed out my savings account, all 600 dollars,
and went to Chicago in search of a poem.

Chicago—City of the Big Shoulders, wrote Sandburg.
But I couldn’t find it.
I found Chicago falling down around an old black man
leaning on his battered bass case, the way you lean
on a friend when you’re in need. And Thomas Jefferson
Brown was a man in need, shoulders sagging under
the weight of six decades of back alley blues bars
and his thirst for blended whiskey.

Chicago—Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler,
wrote Sandburg.
But I couldn’t find it.
I found Chicago in a rusted heap of railroad cars, twisted
tracks and 55 gallon drums where bums built their fires.
Factories and warehouses empty, workers sitting in nearby
bars drinking beer, expecting checks at the end of the week.

Chicago—Stormy, husky, brawling, wrote Sandburg.
But I couldn’t find it.
I found Chicago shimmering in the shadows of towering
concrete, steel and glass along 32nd Street, poets reading
in bookstores and coffee houses, children marching
to museums, women with slim hips in black silk gowns,
men in tuxedos and Italian shoes, dressed for the theater.

I wanted to write poetry like Sandburg.
But I couldn’t find his Chicago.

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