Sunday, June 30, 2013

Exorcism's Curious Path

I have travelled to Paris twice.  Unfortunately, both times I was in an unhappy place and unable to enjoy the splendor of the city as much as it deserves.  A big regret.

A few years after my last trip, I was chatting with my co-worker Harry, who said he was getting married and going to Paris on his honeymoon.  Harry was an actor at night and I had seen him perform in a play based on Edgar Allen Poe's story The Pit and the Pendulum.  I sensed that he had an appreciation of the supernatural.

So, I gave him some cash, and asked him to have drinks in Paris with his bride, and perfom an exorcism for me.  I would be relieved of all negative energy surrounding the city "forevermore."  He happily agreed and the deed was done.

I don't know if I will make it back to Paris.  But, tomorrow Bill and Natalie are off to the great city for a father/daughter adventure.  Fantastique!

I hereby extend all of the exorcism's magic to them.  They are going to have a wonderful time.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Pump Room Revisited

My wonderful friend Lisa treated me to lunch at the Pump Room.  I knew the famous room was under new management and even the Ambassador Hotel had a new name.  But, on the way over, I was thinking of Kup in booth number one, of the celebrity photos in the hallway, of how you could get a phone plugged in at your table.

For certain dishes the waiters would march to your table to serve your food from flaming swords.  The whole idea was over the top pagentry.  The men wore elaborate hats with huge plumes above suits that looked like they came from Versailles.

Today, the pump room is beige.  Very elegant, very quiet, very soothing.  Our waitress wore plain black and sneakers.  Imagine that: sneakers.

Myles has a copy of Fodor's Guide to Chicago, 1954.  It  has reviews of Fritzel's, Shangri-La, Red Star Inn.  I'm sure the Pump Room is in there too.  I want to see what Fodor had to say.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Slouching Towards Anarchy

Is anarchy the proper response to a surveillance system gone mad?  I was thinking about "the joy of non-cooperation" when I told the cashier, "No, I will not give you my email address."  "But, you'll be eligible for a discount," she pleaded.  "No, thanks," I smiled, feeling even more self-satisfied by my sacrifice.

Another total intrusion story broke out this week. The Supreme Court ruled that big pharma can no longer own our genes.  This bit of commen sense took 30 years to achieve.

So, I'm thinking:  "If I can obtain a patent on my phone calls and my emails, maybe I can keep big brother at bay for 30 years, by which time I'll be long gone."

Harry Browne, the late libertarian, wrote: "Don't do anything that requires your signature."
If only.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A New Look

Elsa sent me her photo today showing her new hairdo:  From long and straightened to short and naturally curly.  She looks beautiful.

A few months ago I met with a group of friends to discuss "The Feminine Mystique."  The book was being celebrated on the fiftieth anniversary of its publication.  The oldsters talked about how the book changed our way of thinking and inspired us to do different things with our lives:  maybe grad school, a job, politics.

It was a new hairdo that did it for me.  I remember vividly getting a different cut and style. I came home from the beauty parlour and looked intently into the mirror.  I saw a new woman from the one who had left the house a few hours before.  That woman said: "It's fear that's keeping you from making the changes you need to make.  Let's get started now."

My new hairdo was also short, kind of tossed on top.  It was called "the artichoke."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

My Year as a Foreigner

My application to Northwestern was a spur of the moment decision made later than the normal time.  When the acceptance letter came, I was told the dorm rooms were full, but if I would agree to live in the “Foreign Student Home,”  I could come to school in the fall.

“Foreign Student Home. Sounds like an adventure. Yes!”, I smiled.  So I unpacked my bags at the Victorian mansion on Orrington Street eager to meet my new exotic friends. Here were the others who showed up that day:  several girls on music scholarships, most from Chicago, some of them black(!); the rest like me, the dormitory overflow.  Not a foreigner among us.

My roommate Joy was a tiny blond girl from the southwest suburbs.  She played the piano like a dream.  All the music girls were talented.  The practicing and the jam sessions went way into the night.

On Friday and Saturday nights Joy played piano at a bar on the “wet” side of Howard Street.  That was the dividing line between Evanston (dry) and Chicago.  We soon found out the hard way (being kicked out of bars in Skokie), that the Howard Street place was the only one that would seat our little integrated group.

Looking back on that fabulous year, I guess that the black and white friendships developed on Orrington Street were a pretty foreign adventure at that.