Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chicago: Perfect Day 2010

Any day that starts with Captain Crunch and Spongebob is likely to be good. If it's followed up by an hour of 6-year-olds playing soccer, there isn't much that can stop it's trajectory upward.

After eating the one thing I really have a craving for every time I come to Chicago: an everything bagel toasted with salmon cream cheese and a tomato slice at Einstein bagels, I went in search of free wifi to post a blog entry. Wifi they have aplenty. Free, not so much. I did write a long and satisfying entry on Romanticism and nature and spirituality at Starbucks, but it's locked in my laptop for now...

It was a gorgeous day in Chicago-- 70 degrees and sunny, so after the iced latte, I walked one of my favorite old routes, Andersonville to Southport, to the Music Box theater to see a film by Werner Herzog. What joy. It was in the small theater, since in the large one was a science fiction festival--- 14 hours of old sci fi films playing one after the other. A man was trying to get the ticket taker to tell him what the next film would be and when it would start, and she had no idea. "It doesn't matter, does it? When this one is over, we'll start the next one. I have no idea what it is. I don't even know what's playing now." I stood in the back and watched, and truly, it doesn't matter. Two classic sci-fi astronauts with big guns were exploring a space cave, very, very slowly and with no dialogue for at least five minutes. The place was loaded with geeks who I'm assuming were not going to see the sunny day...

In my theater, people knew exactly what we were in for-- absurdism from the mind of Herzog. The only thing that could have improved this film would have been to have Herzog doing a voice-over of some sort. The film was full of non-sequiters that made one guy at the end of my row laugh so hard he had to put his head on his hands. I, too, cried at points from laughing so hard. My favorite line was: "He told me he cried for four years in a laundry once, until they renovated it for other uses." Perhaps the funniest thing about the film was the line saying: based on a true story. You can just add "in Werner Herzog's head" like you can add "in bed" to fortune cookie lines, and you'll be closer to the truth.

The film, probing the motives of a man who commited matricide in San Diego, was coproduced by David Lynch. That explains the midget and the ostrich farm, but this film had none of the creepy wierdness of Lynch. It had a protagonist who returned from a trip to Peru, where he was the only person in a group of guys sane enough not to go down the rapids during the rainy season (all the others purportedly died), and returned unhinged. That is pure Herzog, who clearly is interested in people who have been to the edge-- and maybe beyond-- and have to figure out how to live in the world. Sometimes they figure it out. Other times they see God in a box of oatmeal and have pet flamingos. Life is just like that-- humans are just like that.

Afterward I took the Clark Street bus up to my friend Paula Dempsey's house, which was full of daffodils and crocuses and expertly renovated. We went to a wonderful Tapas restaurant-- particularly good was the stuffed pepper and egg. And we talked about many very important things that only matter to the two of us. If I miss anything in my new life in Minnesota, it is women friends like this, with whom I've shared complicated history and who has known me through several lives.

Not sure what it means that my best days are in cities-- mostly that you can string together a really great day and because I'm away I can do exactly what I want all day long!

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