Well, I’m Miami, but Chicago the last two days – great city!
My first event was at Barbara’s in OakPark, where on one street you can see eight of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style homes – including his own, personal residence. Thirty-eight Wright homes altogether, all from my favorite period of his work – great squatting monster houses with big overhangs and leaded glass windows that must have sent glass-cutters to the loony bin with their complex designs.
A smallish crowd at the event, but everyone there had read most all of the books, so it was like hanging with people you know, rather than talking to strangers. Face it, if you’ve read seven of my books, you’ve spent a lot of time in my head, and if you still like the ideas, then you’re probably the sort of person that I’d like too.
I went to the Chicago institute of Art yesterday. Exhibits span from the earliest Egyptian funereal objects to modern furniture design, and everything in between. A great collection with especially deep collections of Chinese art.
They had perhaps five Magritte’s, on of my favorite painters, as well as Miro I actually liked. (I know it sounds unsophisticated, but Miro’s stuff always looks empty to me. This one had some substance beyond the surrealistic symbols.)
After looking at all of the religious art from India and Indonesia and reading the captions, trying to absorb the passion that each of these ancient artists put into his work, I had to sit down and think. So I went into the café. There, about twenty feet away, sat an old woman, eating her lunch. I watched her eat, after having my head pried open by five-thousand years of spiritual art, and this is what I wrote in my notebook:
Eating Meatloaf and Asparagus at the Chicago Institute of Art
She eats slowly As if every bite contains nitroglycerine; Or is it all that time Spent sitting in front of paintings Absorbing cultures Has made her meatloaf Into Art? And now At age seventy-six Letting one more chance To obtain beauty Slip by Would kill her
To digest the whole of human culture In one afternoon And fear death by exploding meatloaf…
Her fear of irony Should be added to the collection Of religious artifacts
So there you go. Don’t be surprised if the meatloaf lady pops up in the next book. This answers the question: “Where do you get your ideas?”
The event in Skokie was very pleasant — perhaps 45 people, but all faithful readers, a couple of guys who drove in from Akron/Kent/Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio (towns in Ohio are pretty close together) for a second time, having driven to Chicago in a snow storm two years ago to hear me talk about Lamb in front of a Unity Church congregation. Diana from the board (AKA: SmartFunnyFem) also came back, after having been thrown by the wrong address on the Harper-Collins web site. There were also a bunch of booksellers from other stores who showed up to say hi, which always makes one feel good.
Besides an incident at a Borders, where an officious manager-type carded me before he would let me sign books – a first in fourteen years of doing this (I left at that point)—Chicago was a great experience.
It’s about 90 degrees in Miami with about ninety percent humidity. Ah, like autumn at home.