More Chicago

I think I may be finally understanding how to get around here. The train system is extensive, but confusing, at least to me. Thankfully, the city is a pretty reliable grid, making it tough to get too lost. Yesterday I spent a few hours at Alliance Bakery, this coffee place down the street from Adrienne’s, then rode the train around indiscriminately. I spent the afternoon around Wrigley Field. Hit a couple of bars and walked around for a bit. Back at Alliance now. I have to do laundry, and then tonight I’m going out with Adrienne, her boyfriend Zach and a few other Tucsonans who have settled here. I think it’s kind of funny how no matter where I go, there are not only people from Arizona, but I inevitably spend all of my time with them. There must be a comraderie among those who have escaped. Like Holocaust survivors.

Been listening to a lot of Bob Dylan lately. I’m a firm believer that travel, when done right, doesn’t require massive amounts of money. A lot of that is me taking advantage of friends, but still, the stuff that requires a lot of money tends to be the least memorable. Fireflies are free. Still, Lollapalooza is this weekend. It’s two days in Chicago’s Grant Park only. Pixies, Weezer, Primus, Cake, Liz Phair, Arcade Fire, Killers, Death Cab, Spoon, Blonde Redhead, Dandy Warhols, Brian Jonestown Massacre and so on. Impressive lineup, but these festivals are a dying breed for a reason. Namely $130 something tickets. Each band plays like 30-40 minutes, the view sucks, the weather sucks, the crowd sucks. Last weekend the Old 97s played on a street stage a few blocks from where we were staying. $10 bucks. Great show. And there were three other cheap shows we could have easily seen.

I did, however, pay $21 to see a display of about 20 dead bodies hardened and displayed in surreal poses. One dead guy was riding a dead horse. Another was playing basketball. A pregnant corpse reclined casually with a cutaway in her stomach exposing the fetus. The first response is repulsion, just at the sight of a dead, skinless body posed as if alive. Then you become really interested and find yourself inches from spinal cords. You almost want to touch some of the organs. This is stuff you’ll probably never get to see this extensively. Entire nervous systems clinging to skeletons. Capillary systems suspended in solution, still holding the shape of a human arm. An obese person hardened and cut into longitudinal cross-sections, splayed out in layers on a table. Then about every 10 minutes or so, you catch a glance at a face and the idea that this was a human hits you. What did the face look like with skin? Family? Job? Age? Then the real queasiness sets in. A little cold sweat, mild dizziness. I found that if I looked away for a few seconds and took a few breaths it all passed. Still for the rest of the afternoon, I was in a daze. My mind didn’t really know what to do with it.

I leave for Madison soon.

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