2005/06/05

Chicago, second impressions

Last time I was here I got dragged on a tour of downtown. Big C is supposed to be one of the major architectural spots in the U.S., maybe even in the world. Why, I have no clue. A lot of it looked totally similar to me, but then I know nothing of architecture so go figure. I was more interested in the moving bits.

First, in a sort of obligatory and cursory fashion, I have got to complain about the traffic. So consider that done. If you live in or near a large city you know what I'm talking about.

Second, I always have the same strange feeling when I go to a city. (I'm not a city slicker, but I'm not a hick, and probably "suburbanite" would also not be an apt description. Ask me about it sometime, if you feel like a dose of boredom.) The feeling is the following: I am the second-unit director for an urban drama television program, searching out locations, views, and people to film for those two-second between-sceen fills that establish location or "atmosphere" for a scene.

If you have tried to shoot a film you'll know what this feels like. Otherwise you won't, so here's the attempt to give it to you. It's a sort of out-of-body experience. Now that you're reaching for the mouse to get the fuck away from the website, I'll give a bit more detail for those who stay. (Thanks, non-losers.) The eyes and ears are a very small and inefficient film crew, surveying the look of a place. The feet are a dolly moving the camera about. The body is merely a support structure for the observation devices. One watches.

Of course, maybe someone else would call my behavior during such experiences "gawking." I can't entirely disagree, though I hope I hid it well enough not to bug the locals (who, I'm sure, deal with annoying tourists all the time; which is not to say I'm a tourist; I'm not; but still). I certainly felt this way in an Indian section off Western of Devon where we had dinner. I am a sucker, plain and simple, for Indian food.

Third, the lake. Yes, the lake. And if you don't know which one, look at a map of Chicago sometime. There is only one. A storm blew in today, as we stood knee-deep in fishy lakewater to cool some of the sweat we'd worked up walking from brunch through the steaming rat-cage air to the quay. (Another aside, and a plug for which I get no compensation: Ann Sathers [the second word may be a misnomer, but it starts with S] serves some of the most incredible cinnamon buns this side of the Ole Store [which I think I heard is closing/-ed, but used to be in Northfield, MN]; also basically it's the best place I've been for an American-style non-buffet brunch. They don't serve grits, tho'.) From the concrete path that abuts the beach we looked out over the water, and there before us stretched out the high aqua tones of a tropical reef in the water. The cobalt thunderclouds shadowed slowly over the lake and the filtered smoglight of the afternoon sun reflected back that chemical climate impossibility. Where is my camera... Oh wait, I gave up my budding photography career in highschool when, if I remember correctly, a girl from my French class required my undivided attention. C'est la vie.

I still don't know any French because of her.

The lake was beautiful. A note to you all: if you ever move to a city, and have not lived there before, bring some Odorscreen. (For the last time, we do not accept sponsorships, endorsement monies, or bribes. Yet. I'm kidding, of course--we're not corporate sell-outs. But seriously, call me.) *that "phone call" hand gesture with pinkie and thumb to mouth and ear*

Also, Lewis Black is an excellent comic to listen to on a long automobile journey, because on his CDs he works blue--very blue--and it's pretty good to imagine how rad it would be for him to bust his good material out on the Daily Show. Or somewhere. Great, now I'm thinking about censorship. Just great. What a way to end a post.

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