Showing posts with label Chicago. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Chicago. Show all posts

30 August, 2019

From Field Notes: 22 Aug 2019 (cool cats and a muckraker's city)

Leaving Chicago on the 5:45 pm Cardinal. By this time tomorrow, I'll be in Ashland (KY). Had a wonderful time at the reading. The record store, No Requests, is nice little place.  One of the owners told me they're also  a record label focusing on  local bands. They release titles on cassette... reminded me of those single or two song cassettes you'd find as a special right before an album drop or to fan up interest

My friend and poetic comrade Jeri has a lovely apartment with a polite and friendly roommate and two cats, both of which resisted my attempts to take pictures of them. They tolerated me well enough and were almost friendly by the time I left for the train station.


The cats eye me
with far less suspicion.
Their gazes say
you will miss us.

Off Lakeshore Drive heading into  the downtown business district, the Uber driver used Ida B Wells Drive. I wonder if anyone driving it knows what she endured in the name of truth just to have a stretch of street named after her.

Holy mother of muckrakers,
sweet lady of malady, madness and letters
have mercy on us!

Taking a smoke outside Union Station the Jackson Street,  I'm soaking in the city yet again, one more time. The weather is cooler, than it had been, and the sun is shining.  There's a few of us there, smoking. Even though the Canal Street doors are open to the public again, the Jackson Street door is more convienent for smokers. The others are huddling in shadows and I find myself drawn to the light around the corner. Street hustlers mix in the panhandlers. I see the hard push on a few unsuspecting travelers trying to wave off the nicotine  mists. But the ATM is right over there, I hear one say. 

What a shame:
out of shadows cast by brick, steel, and glass
violence bids hello
with a handshake and a sharp smile.
   

20 August, 2019

In Motion


Chicago --

Getting out of River City is always fraught. Or, at least, it seems that way lately. I tell myself it's important to remind myself: it's the time of year. Summer travel is a always a little .... more. More crowded. More expensive. More prone to run late. 

I decided to cheat on the old grey dog and use Megabus for my run up to Chicago. Yes, I could have taken a bus up to Indy and rode train... except that regional train travel is complicated thanks to the monumental lack of foresight that led to the decommissioning of the Indiana State Hoosier. It would have extended this leg of my trip a bit too long, and I would have had to spend at least one night in the Indiana Depot... an accommodation I've experienced many, many times too many.  In order to be an even more particular traveler, I opted for the option. -- at the cost of an additional $2 -- to reserve a specific seat. I chose one on the left side of the bus, next to the window, near the front, on the top level. 

That proved to be a complete waste of time. Not only was the bus an hour late, but my seat and the one next to it were taken up by a future seminary student and his prodigious amount of luggage. I wasn't the only one to fall prey the hopeful, false advertising.  Two women across the aisle and one row up from me were actually sitting in seats that had been reserved by a young woman and her friend. When the young woman attempted -- politely -- to explain they were sitting in her seats, they were incredibly rude. Sure, they were probably still sore at being bamboozled. But that's no reason to call a fellow sufferer a bitch.

Bus travel isn't my preferred mode, but it gets the job done. Mostly. At least regionally.

So I remind myself the delays are seasonal. Interstates are construction- choked arteries. There are more people on the road, and because we're heading out during rush hour, delay is almost guaranteed.   But there's been a steady increase in people moving around the country by bus. Flying can be prohibitively expensive, and trains don't go everywhere people really need them to go.

More people are in motion, for reasons and excuses to numerous to list. No, they're not traveling; at least, not traveling in the sense that I travel. And they're not vacationing in that Sunday Morning retirement IRA commercial sense, either. But people are in motion. Not in control, but still in a damned hurry. And because of this, and because public transit goers tend to see themselves as consumers rather than the consumed, the gentility and etiquette I saw a few years back is wearing off like tired, neglected paint. 

But the sunset in Indiana, just north of Indianapolis, is lovely. The colors are autumnal: purples and blues highlighted with splashes of tangerine, splashed across the sky above an endless ocean of green fields waiting for the harvest. And that, more than anything, is why I don't drive.
   

26 March, 2019

Field Notes, 24 March 2019: Beautifully Savage

[Indianapolis:]

Part of me wanted to miss the bus, or for something to go wrong in Louisville just so I could have one more minute with her. It's always like this. Even when I'm compelled to go, there is such a desire to stay, to damn the consequences. And indeed, there would be consequences. I've seen that before, too.

Some aspects of every trip are the same. Indy and the buzzing lights. Chicago Union Station and the great, depressive and beautiful vacuum of that city. Longing and loneliness. And the obligation to write it all down, to somehow make it all make sense, if only for myself, but maybe -- just maybe -- for some other poor asshole out there who is equally torn apart by a need to Go and to See. Someone else who is tortured by the desire to stay, to leave the road for someone else.

At the 2:45AM ticket check I was again asked about a confirmation number. I'm starting to feel punked.

Buzzing overhead lights
and a four hour layover.
Thoughts of you make me wonder
why it feels so necessary
to be anywhere you're not.

[Near Chicago Union Station]

Of course the ridiculous worries about the "confirmation number" were unfounded. The desk worker in Louisville was clearly mistaken/misinformed/harried. The security guard at the Indy station was probably just being a dick because he picked up on my displeasure about the ticket check. They always state the same legal caveat "I am not biased and will check anyone regardless of what they look like." This gives them the blankt authority to racially and economically profile anyone they want without fear of the guard or the company being sued. And naturally, there are any number of ways to abuse tacit authority at 3AM in a Midwestern bus station.

Power is so predictable.
Give authority to a beaten man
and he will beat anyone down
with savage impunity --
in particular, whoever he blames.


Canal Street Entrance, Chicago Union Station
[In the Great Hall, Union Station, Chicago]

The Great Hall is gorgeous. The lights, the statues, the columns and marble staircases. A mish-mash of Greco-Roman with Digital Age minimalism forced into the crevices. Ornately wrought columns and digital screens. Nothing is so American as our nostalgia for the past that never was -- the carefully and assiduously reconstructed one we write ourselves into as the denouement.

Beautiful as they are
all our grand monuments
harken back to a past
reconstructed from afar
so it necessarily includes
us, whether we belong or not.




[Harmonee Ave/Glenview, IL]

Loaded for bear
more people than seats
our steel horse barrels westward
breaching the ragged edge
in search of soul, Big Sky and light.

[Flooded plains outside Columbus, Wisconsin]

Downed and drought
are the only cycles
anyone can really count on.
Everything else is Faith.

[All that's left is the thaw]

Snow lingers west of the Wisconsin Dells. Dirty, tired looking stuff. Knee high piles along the outside
St. Paul-Minneapolis, MN - Union Depot (MSP)
edges and corners of muddy unplanted cornfields. Tiny blankets wrapped around the base of young sycamores and trimming along creek beds. It's all over but the melting here. 


The sun broke out for setting
just east of La Crosse --
piles of dirty snow like shrugged off clothes
lay around the edges
of soon-to-be plowed fields.

[Black River, WI]

Broken up ice islands
The waters are high.
We're coming upon the Mississippi
to breach the great boundary
into Minnesota.

Every time I travel I'm awe struck by how beautiful and how beautifully savage the landscape is.


[First 'Air Break'/ Flood Fight]

Chatted with a woman name Kristy and a man named Dean, both from Fargo. They were strangers to each other but both going home. When they found out they were both from the same place, they started talking about the 'Flood Fight.' Every year when the snow melts, people volunteer to make sandbags to stave off the inevitable flooding of the North River. Dean is volunteering for the first time in several years. Kristy volunteers every year, but her job allows her to volunteer and get paid for it. Dean said they are calling for 1 million sand bags this year. Kristy said they are expecting floods about 41 feet, worse than 1997.

All I said was that water always runs down river eventually. All I thought about was how much we don't need the water to rise anymore at home. But that's life -- it's all connected and everything runs downstream eventually.

-MKP
~

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