Here’s another reading of Algren’s poetic Chicago: City on the Make.
14 Mar 2017 Leave a comment
13 Mar 2017 Leave a comment
Nelson Algren blew me away with his powerful poetic prose in Chicago: City on the Make. I expected it to be a novel, but it isn’t. It’s a prose poem essay that packs a lot of history and observation into very well written essays on the city. Written in the 6o’s, Chicago: City on the Make brought old Chicago, one that’s grittier and livelier to life. Algren’s Chicago was getting softened up, suburbanized almost when he wrote the book. Now downtown at least is like a lot of cities, though the neighborhoods are quite individual.
The book’s a must-read for people who know the city and want to learn more. The 50th Anniversary edition that I read has a lot of good annotations, but there were some references that weren’t covered that I had to use Bing to find.
Half-way through the book, I emailed a friend who teaches a unit on Chicago in her high school urging her to add at least a few chapters from the book to the class reading list.
Here are a few quotations from a book that’s full of great passages:
“Yet once you’ve come to be part of this particular patch, you’ll never love another. Like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may well find lovelier lovelies. But never a lovely so real.”
“…a city that was to live by night after the wilderness had passed. A city that was to forge out of steel and blood-red neon its own peculiar wilderness.”
“It’s the place built out of Man’s ceaseless failure to overcome himself. Out of Man’s endless war against himself we build our successes as well as our failures. Making it the city of all cities most like Man himself— loneliest creation of all this very old poor earth.”
14 Feb 2016 2 Comments
13 Feb 2016 Leave a comment
Now, the price was too rich for my blood ($50) but it does look tempting, not to mention elegant. This tea experience is part of the Driehaus Museum’s Dressing Downton exhibit, a first class showing of the sumptuous clothing of Downton Abbey.
14 Jan 2016 Leave a comment
Sunday I saw The Heir Apparent at the Chicago Shakespeare Theater. It’s a fast-paced farce about a young man who connives to get his uncle to name him sole heir so he can marry his true love. The problem is his love has a shrewd guardian, an aunt, whose arranged for the young lady to marry the uncle. Woe is me!
So the conniving continues all done in verse. The couplets are clever and constant. Some include modern references to “soccer moms” and such so if you’re a purist, you won’t be thrilled. It’s a play to go to for a bit of fun.
09 Jan 2016 1 Comment
Chicago’s Lyric Opera is now showing Bel Canto, a new opera based on Ann Patchett’s novel about the hostage situation in Peru in the 199o’s. Patchett added to the real event by creating a cast of characters, adding some romance and cross-cultural lessons.
Bel Canto takes place in Peru when the Vice President has throws a party for an important Japanese business man who’s a big opera lover. Soprano Roxane Cox, Mr. Hosokawa’s favourite singer, will perform. Thus the opera opens with the excited arrival of guests to a once in a lifetime event.
Yet early on the mood is transformed when guerrilla soldiers storm the mansion and take everyone inside hostage. Like the real event, the guests are held hostage for 4 months. During that time, romances blossom, cultural barriers crack and crumble.
Except for the very end, the opera follows the plot of the novel. I thought the music was wonderful, but some lyrics were too mundane such as a the piece between a rebel woman and a translator who’re in love. When they’re in the kitchen for some private space, they sing of pots and pans and saltshaker and amor. It didn’t work for me. All in all, Bel Canto is an accessible opera that fans of the novel will enjoy, especially if the composer goes back and makes some of the lyrics more poetic rather than mundane.
Also, the audience doesn’t get as intimate a sense of the characters as we did with the book. Now, of course, opera is a different art form, but great operas masterfully communicate the desires and thoughts, Bel Canto can too.
Readers, PBS’ Great Performances taped the opera when I was there so you don’t have to spend $50-289 to see it. Even though there were some rough spots, it’s well worth watching on TV.
29 Jul 2015 Leave a comment
I’m working on a project for a rare books class I took two weeks ago. It’s an annotated bibliography of books on Chicago. I discovered, and promptly bought on Amazon,
Dybwad, G.L., and Bliss, Joy V. Annotated Bibliography: World’s Columbian Exposition, Chicago 1893. Albuquerque, NM, 1992.
Organized by type of item, this bibliography includes a brief history of the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition (WCE), a fold out map of the WCE and its organization chart. This source includes chapters on fiction, poetry and children’s books, exposition publications, federal publications, guides, periodicals, music, salesmen’s samples, recent books and unpublished unique works. The introduction is written by Dybwad and explains why he started this project.
The entries in this source date from before the fair to 1991.
The bibliographers designed the format and organized the source with a view to ease of use. Abbreviations and citations are clearly explained and the indexes cross-reference items so if users don’t know the author’s name or the title of an item, they can still find it relatively easily. Each entry is concise and provides a brief description of each item. When available, the bibliographers list price information, however, following the Introduction, there’s a note on price stating principles in pricing and reasons for variance. (No doubt since 1992 these prices have changed.)
For books, there is minimal collation* information. This book is a comprehensive source, which would aid researchers and collectors.
*Collation data describes the paper, binding and book as a physical object.
20 Feb 2015 6 Comments
in architecture, Blogging Challenge, Chicago, culture, expat life, Japan, theater/music, Weekly Photo Challenge Tags: Chicago, Japan, Kyoto, mountains, New Mexico, postaday, postaweek, temple, theater, USA, Weekly Photo Challenge
1. Each week, we’ll provide a theme for creative inspiration. You take photographs based on your interpretation of the theme, and post them on your blog (a new post!) anytime before the following Friday when the next photo theme will be announced.
2. To make it easy for others to check out your photos, title your blog post “Weekly Photo Challenge: (theme of the week)” and be sure to use the “postaday″ tag.
3. Follow The Daily Post so that you don’t miss out on weekly challenge announcements, and subscribe to our newsletter – we’ll highlight great posts. Add Media photos from each month’s most popular challenge.
Other great photos:
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (daily post)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (lo and behold)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (open and free)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (cee’s photography)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (jinan daily photo)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (here and there)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (hx report)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (beijing daily photo)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (jasper emits)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (retired, rewired in nicaragua)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (ese’s voice)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (no fixed plans)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (traveling nurse)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Rule of Thirds (francine in retirement)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (patchwork ponderings)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (snaps & stories)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (cardinal guzman)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (ewe’s voice)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (autopic)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (that traveling nurse)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (travel with intent)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (ohm sweet ohm)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (duckwalk vineyard)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (tish farrell)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Symmetry (no fixed plans)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (cee’s photos)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (travel with intent)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (ese’s voice)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (variety of light)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (rewired and retired)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (my point of view)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (anvica’s gallery)
- Weekly Photo Challenge: Depth (foto challenge)
17 Feb 2015 2 Comments
in architecture, Chicago, theater/music, travel, USA Tags: Beyoncé, celebrities, Chicago Theater, Frank Sinatra, French Baroque, history, Jerry Seinfeld, Katy Perry, landmark, Loop, Mariah Cary, showplace, Theater Week Chicago, tour
It’s Theater Week in Chicago, which means discounts for theater events. I took advantage of the discounts and went on a tour of the Chicago Theater. I’d never been inside before and wasn’t prepared for it to be so palatial. Designed by the Rapp brothers and opened in 1921, the French Baroque theater awes.
Our guide was informative and upbeat making for a fun experience. He clearly loves this landmark. We learned all about the building, which was run by the Balaban & Katz group (who started in show biz by showing films for a nickel in the back of their parents’ grocery store). The Balaban & Katz group spent $4 million on construction. When it opened, a nickel got you the right to stay all day — from 10 am to 10 pm and to watch the show consisting of two films, a concert and vaudeville, over and over again. Originally, there was no food available in the theater and restrooms were hidden, not for patrons’ use. If you left the theater, you’d have to buy another ticket to get back in. Evening tickets cost 25¢. This theater was pioneered the use of air conditioning, which the owners falsely claimed brought purified mountain air into the theater, which would benefit patrons’ health.
In the 50s, theater attendance slid and the new owners decide to modernize the theater. Essentially, they got rid of all the elegance and panache. That didn’t get the desired increase in ticket sales. The owners let the theater to go pot and by the 1970s there were rats scurrying through the lower seats. The theater was sold and scheduled to be demolished and replaced by another office building. People protested and the mayor canceled the building permits. Thankfully, rather than getting demolished, a committee formed and with the city had it restored to its original glory. The Chicago Theater reopened in 1986 with a Frank Sinatra concert.
I won’t share each fact I learned during the hour tour, but I will share some of the celebrity scuttlebutt. Different celebrities request different amenities when they perform and some won’t go on if their requests (demands?) weren’t met. For example, Jerry Seinfeld requires a bowl of green M&M’s and has years before you could order specialized M & M’s. The reason for the bowl of green M & M’s was that, Jerry could arrive, see the green M & M’s and know that the theater had read the contract and did everything he stipulated.
Katy Perry insists upon 10 white couches, Beyouncé specifies black carpeting back stage and Mariah Carey asked for a kitten to play with. (After her concert, the Humane Society got the kitten back and sold it as “Mariah’s kitten.”)
Since John Mellencamp’s crew was setting up we couldn’t go on the stage or take photos of it, but we did get to see them setting up.
All in all, the Chicago Theater tour is well worth taking, especially on days when the weather’s bad and an architecture tour isn’t appealing.
28 Jan 2015 4 Comments
in Chicago, exploration, Review Tags: Career, Carol Clover, dating, family life, feminism, final girl, funny, Gina Gionfriddo, Goodman Theater, horror, humor, internet, marriage, pornography, sacrifice, success, terrorism, theater, women't rights
Written by Gina Gionfriddo, Rapture, Blister, Burn* takes the audience on a hilarious exploration of modern feminism. When my friend, whose husband didn’t want to see a play, explained it too me she said it was about two women, one a stay at home, married mother and the other a single, successful career woman reunite. I felt nothing new would be offered.
I was wrong.
Rapture, Blister, Burn* does tell the story of two friends who haven’t seen each other since grad school. Catherine became a famous feminist professor who’s on the talk show circuit to discuss terrorism, the Internet and porn, and Gwen, who’s married Catherine’s former boyfriend Don, who’s turned out to be an unambitious academic dean. Don’s the guy who counsels the kids who ditch class, drink too much and maybe take drugs. He demands so little of himself or his students.
Catherine moves to Gwen’s town to care for her mother, who’s had a heart attack. This crisis has made Catherine question her life’s choices and women’s progress. Don, Gwen’s husband, was Catherine’s boyfriend and she now thinks perhaps Don was “the one.” What happens between the trio is the main plot of the play, but what I found most interesting was the interaction between Catherine, Gwen, Catherine’s mother and Avery, Gwen’s rebellious babysitter. Catherine needs something to do in the summer so Don’s able to get her a seminar to teach. Only two students register for Catherine’s feminist studies seminar so she holds it in her mother’s living room. Gwen and Avery turn out to be the two students.
Avery’s an outspoken millennial who got a black eye while shooting a reality show with her boyfriend. Avery has some beliefs that I confess I found shocking — yet intriguing. She argues that you can totally outsource homemaking (not just housework, but giving a home its feel). During the seminar and the cocktail hour that invariably follows, the women discuss Phyllis Schafly, Carol Clover, and other feminists. Their discussions were funny and enlightening, which surprised me as I thought the topic one I knew all about. Gionfriddo’s characters have open minds and do wrestle with ideas that you’d expect them to immediately reject. I’d never heard of feminist ideas surrounding horror movies or Clover’s concept of the “final girl.” Catherine, her mother, Gwen and Avery debate and argue without sounding pedantic. The humor reminds me of a modern day, feminist Socratic discussion, one where the participants all have a lot riding on the ideas.
Rapture, Blister, Burn has played in London and L.A. and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. While, like me, you probably won’t walk out of the theater envious or any character or ready to espouse their beliefs, you will play with the ideas discussed and just might find yourself tracking down Phyllis Schafley’s books at the library. I never thought I would, but this play is full of surprises.
(*The title is from some lyrics to a Courtney Love song.)