Posts Tagged ‘Chicago’

Bozo the Clown

September 6, 2015

Here’s a nice pic of the Chicago River, looking west from the Michigan Ave. bridge. There’s Bozo the Clown’s place on the right.

ChicRivr

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The Wind

July 12, 2015

I don’t remember the first time

I ever felt it,

or saw or heard it, but

I know it is there.

I mean I know its here

or at least it was a minute ago.

And before that I saw a picture of it,

evidence that it was there

or here or somewhere.

It was in an art gallery where Mr. Wyeth had

done something or other that

moved me, really moved me although

I don’t know why.

This involved brushing paint on a canvas.

Wyeth

It was a wistful scene but then a few minutes later

I saw another work that some artist had left behind

about a shipwreck, and it looked pretty severe.

Shipwrk

So it works both ways.

Don’t know how or when

but I remember too, some poet or his

singing about it, and he said the answer was

blowing in it,

the answer to what I don’t know

maybe how many times must the cannonballs fly

or the winds of war blow or

the winds of change rearrange

everything that is or ever was or ever will be.

A few days ago I was in that windy city

HorsMnCity

where stuff had happened

long ago, back in the day,

and I remembered

part of what had happened

but I wasn’t sure if it had happened to me

or if I just remembered it from some

news report I saw or some

painting I viewed or collective memory from

my g-generation

HorsMnSky

and then I remembered that ye must be born

again. The wind blows where it wishes and you hear

the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from

and where it is going; so is everyone who is born

of the Spirit

and that’s enough for me.

You feel it?

I’m not making this up.

 

King of Soul

A Woman’s Love makes Possible

July 7, 2015

Well my bride of 35 years hath done it again. Last week she took me to Washington, so we could escort nieces and nephews around our great national memorials.

This week we’re in Chicago, while she attends a Nurses’ conference.

While we were walking along Michigan Ave yesterday, I thought about Mama Cass.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OouK3QOzW6Q

because she had sung that song back in the day. . . Words of Love, which contains these lines:

“Worn out phrases and warning gazes won’t get you where you want to go;

if you love her, you must send her somewhere where she’s never been before.”

 

This love strategy is appropriate to my wife and me, but in a reverse kind of way, because she is the one who takes me places!

Sunday morning, I had awakened in our home and made some coffee, then sat in my usual comfy spot to begin a day of reading and writing (which I cannot generally do for five days out of every week because of work.)

My comfy home-working spot is a chair by the living room window, which affords me a quaint view of our back deck and back yard. It usually looks something like this:

BirdDeck

But yesterday, after we checked into the Burnham in Chicago, this was my window view:

Burnhmvw

What a difference! Talk about literary inspiration! Chicago! Carl Sandburg rattling in my brain.

So today, Tuesday she will be attending her professional confab, while I amble over to Grant Park and pursue some groundwork for the new novel. The story, as it appears now in my mind, begins in Grant Park. That’s where, on August 28, 1968, some events took place that made an indelible mark on my generation.  I’ll have more to say about that in three or four years after the book is finished.

Meanwhile, a couple of pics may indicate where this thing is headed, at least for its first part:

ChiHiltn

Logan1
 

King of Soul

Through the Looking Glass Gate of 1968

June 13, 2015

It was many, many years ago today

Sergeant Pepper thought he taught the band to play.

We been goin’ in n’ outa style,

‘though we’ve traveled now for many a mile.

Yes, ‘T’was many and many a year ago,

and whose years these were I think I know,

’cause I was born and raised in the Way down south;

Oh, Sweet potato pie and shut my mouth!

Meanwhile, suddenly down in Memphis

the tenser had gone to tensest

when the Man who was a Mountain said,

as though he were already dead:

I may not get there with you;

I may not get there with you,

and then suddenly he’s gone where

I know he found a stair

way to heaven.

Film at eleven,

they said.

But He was already dead.

 

So then we woke up from the dream

of marmalade pie and soured cream

‘T’was in that summer I hear them sayin,

while America was frayin’:

Hell no! We won’t go.

Bring your Democratic ass up to Chicago!

But we were agonizin’

while some bad moon was a-risin’.

I can’t go there, I say I say.

Me gots to work; me gots to stay,

so I’ll meet you there in fourscore and seven.

Therefore, lest I catch that same stairway to heaven,

and I feel my engines revvin’,

I think I’ll just skip the part about film at eleven.

But then we said,

when even Bobby too was dead

Hell, just lock the door and throw away the key;

Jest let us go then, you and me.

Let us give up hope

’cause we can’t any longer cope.

Let us lock the door and throw away the key,

me and thee, and them out there makes three.

But hey! I thought;

lest we all be sold and bought,

if we fall for that that old cynic’s tune

just gag me with a spoon!

Back at the ranch, meanwhile,

and suddenly she’s there at the turnstile.

We feel the women come and go;

we wonder why but we don’t know.

They look for Michelangelo

but then the men don’t show.

They went to where the flowers go

while Sergeant Pepper puts on his show.

 

Maybe I didn’t know then what I don’t know now,

so I thought I’d try to work it out somehow,

until I found myself caught up in a Fall,

and suddenly I caught it all.

So we wrote it all off as a loss,

when we hung it, later, on a damned old cross.

I’m sorry to burst you bubble;

but thanks for all our trouble.

 

Glass half-Full

You gotta respect yourself

December 14, 2014

I was in Greensboro yesterday, and visited Scuppernong Books on South Elm Street downtown, where I picked up a copy of Greg Kot’s excellent historical book about Mavis Staples and the Staples Singers.

After reading 40 pages about Pop Staples and his singing family, I was very impressed with these people, and what they did with their lives. I really identify with old Pop Staples, who got his young’uns started in music back in the 1950s, when I was a clueless white kid growing up in Jackson Mississippi.

Now everybody knows that Miss’ippi mud gave birth to the delta blues.

There ain’t nothin’ really wrong with the blues. I’ve spent many an hour myself singing the blues, crying the blues, being blue, and feelin’ that ole E7 12-bar a-wailin’ blues. Ev’body have the blues now and then, and some folks are born into the blues, spend their lives in the blues, and make powerful emotive music in the blues. But the blues is hard, and there are lifestyle choices connected to singin’ them blues that can render a life that is just damned hard, too hard.

Ole Pop Staples learned his blues down in the delta where he was raised, and he played along with them wailin’ boys, but when it came to Sunday morning, Pop took his wife and young’uns to church, cuz there come a time when you gotta rouse yoself outa that funky blues and do somethin’ right.

So Pop Staples got his younguns started out right in the musical life, singing in church, praising God.

Few years later, when they moved up to South side of Chicago , and them Staples saw deeply into all what was going on there in that big hub city of America’s stockyard-smellin’ heartland, and they heard Mahalia and sang with her and all that, Pop’s commitment to gospel music got stronger and stronger.

So he made sure his singing kids stayed on the gospel track, even though what they were doing sounded real bluesy, like his delta roots.

That man from the delta had a unique combination of blues and gospel runnin’ through his veins, and he brought his children on board that train. There wasn’t no one who would sing like Pop with his children; they were good at it. As we say in the Christian heartland, they had “the anointing.”

In his book, Greg Kot mentions on page 34 that, nevertheless, their first record release was a flop. After that, a certain record company was

“. . . looking for hits and encouraged the Staples to move in a rock’n’roll direction, according to Pops, but he would have none of it.”

And Pops said:

“. . .He wanted us to sing blues. He said Mavis could make a lot of money singing blues. I didn’t want her singing blues.”

Prodigy singing daughter Mavis agreed:

“I just enjoy singing spirituals.”

Some time passed. Then the singing had to go on the back burner for awhile. Kot reports:

“When the Staples’ contract expired in 1955, Pop returned to his job at the steel mill, in no hurry to jump back into the music business.”

But that little disagreement with the music professionals turned out to be just a bump in the road for Pop and his soulful singing kids. Long story short, here’s what happened later:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oab4ZCfTbOI

 

Glass half-Full

Chicago

June 21, 2014

I say

America moved, I say, back in the day.

She just came bustin’ out from the East.

She came rolling in on wheels, gliding through ship-tossed spray.

She was blowing past some old dearth, yearning some new feast.

We heard her skimming’ o’er Erie, Michigan, and along the deep blue sky,

plucking plunder low, grabbing gusto high.

And when the dust had settled,

after Illinois mud had dried,

when ore’d been changed to metal,

while papa sweated and mama cried,

the new was born; the old had died.

Where dreamers come and workers go,

‘t’was there arose:

Chicago.

 

Born of rivers and the Lake,

she was cast in iron, forged in steel,

bolted fast as rails n’ timbers quake,

careening then on some big steely Wheel

making here a whippersnappin’ deal,

and there a factory, a pump, a field,

o’er swamp and stump and prairie

tending farm and flock and dairy

in blood and sweat and rust

through boom and blust and bust.

ChigLRust

 

They carved out block, laid brick and stone;

our groundwork for America Midwest they honed

with blade and trowel and and pick and shovel.

They swung hammers through dust as thick as trouble.

ChicDNBldg

 

They dug a canal there that changed

the whole dam world; they arranged

to have goods shipped in, and products go.

Reminds me of Sandburg, and Michelangelo.

ChiTribBldg

Many a man put meat on the table;

many a woman toiled, skillful and able.

Thousands of sites got developed, selected,

while many a factory got planned and erected.

(ChiFinkl1)

ChiFinkl1

Many a Chicagoan had a good run,

caught lots of ball games, had a whole lotta fun,

while working, playing, praying and such

with friends and families, keeping in touch.

ChiBldCh

 

In all that we do, the plans we make,

 

there’s forever more going down than we think is at stake.

 

When people wear out, they sit around and play cards.

 

When widgets wear out, we pile them in scrap yards.

ChicScrap1

 

If we’re lucky, or resourceful, or blessed,

we’ll end up with a little something at the end of our test,

a hole in the wall, or a piece of the pie,

maybe a nice little place, by n’ by.

 ChicagoIvy

While Democrats convened in Chicago in ’68,

antiwar protesters got stopped at the gate.

Mayor Daley sent his men out to poke ’em in the slammer.

‘T’was Chicago style justice: no sickle, just hammer.

DaleyPlaza

Today in downtown, Chicago Mayor Daley’s name is all over the place,

though about those radical protesters you’ll find not a trace.

So what does that tell ya about Chicago, or America, today?

We’re like the Cubs’ in the Series;  that’s all that I’ll say.

Glass half-Full