The idle ramblings of a Jack of some trades, Master of none

I nipped over at high speed to Chicago last week. It was such a hurried trip that I oGod Bless America inspired by American Gothicutpaced jet lag. Thirty one hours in one of my favourite cities is hard recompense for seven years' absence. Still, a jaunt at company expense is hardly to be sneezed at, especially in these cost-cutting times. Hurray for business class. Ha, I'd forgotten what that was like.

It was freezing in the Windy City but I refused to be fazed. I stomped up and down Michigan Avenue, that Magnificent Mile, gawking anew at the skyscrapers old and new. There were buildings there that were only glints in their designers' eyes during my time. The Trump building trumped over the multitude. No sign of Calatrava's Spire, though - that's yet another iconic design by the Spaniard that will probably not come up.

Wandering by Pioneer Court, just south of the Chicago river, I was taken aback by a sculpture of a very familiar painting. Couldn't recall the title of the painting, but I knew it had something to do with American Gothic. The sculpture was cheekily titled "God Bless America", and I suppose the only difference between it and the painting was the addition of two travel trunks at the feet of the figures. A couple of local girls looked at it from all possible sides. "Going to Bangladesh with a pitchfork?" said one of them, barely able to hold back her giggles.

Grant Wood's artwork has been widely parodied, but I think this is the first one in 3 dimensions.

The wife had given me specific instructions. "Go to Borders near the Water Tower and get me this book." So I went and did. The Water Tower is one of old Chicago's features, Gothic once again, and having survived the fire, is a favourite location for tourists as well. I am not one to deny the inherent (and fairly uninspired) shutterbug in me, so above on the left is a picture of this iconic structure.

I was making a presentation on the top floor of one of The Tribune Tower At NightChicago's tallest buildings, the Aon Center, which provided an opportunity for some bird's-eye-views of the downtown and the river and the lake and all that. All the superlatives were visible on this cold and sunny day. Sears Tower, the Hancock building, the Prudential, the Wrigley, the boat on the river... I was so high up I could almost see the curvature of the planet.

The Tribune Building was visible in the night just out of my window on the 29th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel. I took a photo of its Gothic top, which was so controversial when it was erected in 1922, much against the spirit of modernity that Chicago strove for. Besides its inspiration from Rouen Cathedral, the building is famous for the various rocks embedded in its walls - pieces from Egyptian pyramids, and the Roman Coliseum, and the Great Wall of China. There is even a rock from the moon, which is on display within. Quite an achievement for Chicago's finest newspaper, the building and the lunacy, I like to think.


Veena said...

oooh..A Chicago building post! Thank you. A teeny bit of my post holiday depression is being washed away.

V Ramesh said...

I like the ".. curvature of the planet" comment

Guru said...

you could pack in so much in so short a time! Amazing man!

Fëanor said...

With determination and immunity to the chill, anything is possible, heh.

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