March 30th, 2013, was Post Apocalyptic. The event I had devised for over a month … thought of months and months before then.
On March 30th I decided to go to Chicago for a weekend art excursion. Waking up in the heart of Chicago and getting off Amtrak on foot and backpack. Carrying two paintings, an oversized piece and a more modestly sized one under each arm. Hot Chocolate carried a blank canvas.
We boarded the train in Kalamazoo, after a long drive and overcharging the debit for gasoline. Tickets were more expensive then advertised and customer service was not helpful, the train arrived 2.5 hours late.
However, with expectation of departing Kalamazoo at 9pm, we dropped in on Shakespeares Pub for an impromptu poetry performance. I had to storm the band and managers to get ahold of the mic.
And then we rushed off to the station in glamorous glory to find out the train would be arriving 2.5 hours late.
McDonalds to wait it out …
Boarding the train was a rush, it was lights out for us though, we had been up early in preparation and the slow departing rumble of tracks underneath sweeping us across miles and miles of land was hypnotic. I think trains will survive the apocalypse …
Waking up in Chicago felt like waking up in a dream, like waking up in each other’s dream. We were rushed off the train and directed out the station, I asked a conductor where a 24 hour diner or cafe would be and he told me, “go a block down this street and 6 blocks to your right”. We ended up walking the streets of West Chicago for hours before stopping at a little 24 hour hole in the wall called Jubilee; our first Chicago meal, garlic bread for a $1.50 each.
I was reminded of home by the bum on the street, slumped over sideways he had left a full can of 211 next to him. Quite the bum, in Lansing it’d be empty …
We continue to walk the streets. We meet a man in a yellow jacket riding a bicycle named Aaron who invites us to stay the night at his home and then rides his bike away, (we got his address and confirmed by phone however when we finally ended up at his doorstep on foot it was locked and his phone was off). He was very drunk. However, on the way to Aaron’s doorstep did we met two very friendly gentlemen, Matthew and Jeremy.
They suggested we make our way to Wicker Park (we heard many references to Wicker Park throughout our journey …). We would eventually do so after walking back from Aaron’s house to a 24 hour Dunkin Donuts we had spied earlier.
Wicker Park was the morning destination, we set out that morning feeling pretty good. Arriving turned out to be very worthwhile. Good conversation and morning sun in the park. Eventually however we had to continue our journey, and it was a good thing we left when we did. Shortly into our walk we spontaneously ran into an old friend who took us out for a good old fashioned easter brunch and drink at a very fine little place called Anthem. Cheers to adventure. Hot Chocolate put in an application and ownership was very responsive to bringing her on as a waitress/barback.
Our friends, Alex and Roderick, took us down to the pier and we all explored Michigan Ave a bit, making stops here and there, like Starbucks to meet the easter bunny. We also met Jeremy the Magician. And got to take lots of pictures at the mirrored bean in Millenium Park.
Alex and Roderick soon had to say said goodbye and left us with well wishes at a very cool exhibit in Millenium Park. We regret not having had taken pictures with them. Hot Chocolate and I decided to post up and determine our next move. We were eager to find a nice wide open park where we could relax. An hour or two of sleep at Dunkin Donuts the night before, as well as a morning spent on foot hauling paintings and our possessions by back pack was tiring.
I came out of Starbucks after using the bathroom to wash up and brush my teeth and Alexa had been approached by a man I would come to know as Phoenix. A long time local Phoenix was inspired to approach by my paintings, “This is going to be worth a lot of money someday …” Phoenix said. He had a hand on one of the paintings as he said it. Phoenix turned out to be an interesting man, he sat me down and hand drew me a map of the underground art movements happening in Chicago. He said it was what he would have wanted someone to do for him if he was in our position as it would save me a lot of time. He also spoke about the prejudice and segregation of the city, however Phoenix had hope for the youth. On departing Phoenix informed us he was professionally shoplifting, as a means to support his heroin usage.
We found our wide open park, with an excellent source of Vitamin C and an amazing view. Chicago skyline.
The city is excellent and made for great wandering. Great inspiration.
After leaving the park, which felt like the first moment we could rest and relax, we walked to the coast of Lake Michigan. It was surreal to think Lansing was on the other side of this great big body of water. The variety and quality of artistic eye candy throughout the Chicago streets was refreshing.
A hotel longue was where I penned ..
Walking through city streets
never quite sure who you’ll meet
feel gratitude for your feet
they carry you unto opportunity.
This city must be the promised land, where people condense like grains of sand
throbbing inside like an hour hand.
The sun it rises then sets and rises again
tracking it’s time thanks to prehistoric man
the sun it rises then sets and rises again,
what majesty and memories will that sun bring?
The opportunity to experience a second. A single … second.
A single moment when to say I is to say enough. For to
say I is to admit you exist and to admit you exist is to admit
the possibility for existence,
And think of the wonderful existence mankind is above all fit to lead
and think if mankind were just free. and chose to believe, to be and to live in accordance with belief
Dare to care. For to care is to offer prayer, but be like a vigilante when you approach spirituality. There are a lot of mystics out there ..
Dare to care, and care for that worth caring for. please.
Hot Chocolate and I found ourselves journaling regularly throughout our weekend, it was our only way to vent and think. That night we rode a subway for the first time, we rode to a little place I had discovered online through research, Beauty Bar. 50 cent beer and pizza while it lasts … we didn’t get any pizza, however we did make it to the place. After a 20 minute subway ride at 2.25 each one way. We ended up cabbing home later ..
Beauty Bar was a snazzy little place, pink sparkly walls, a cosmetologist painting nails; electronic music with complex bass and beat playing through a high quality dance floor system. Beauty Bar was a place where anything could happen, featuring a room full of cool fashion forward hipsters. There were old fashioned salon chairs people reclined in while sipping drinks and looking chic. The dance floor stayed empty the whole night, I however very much got it on.
Beauty Bar has a convenient back alley entrance/exit.
After a quick talk with the staff and bartender I was able to finally bust out the blank canvas Hot Chocolate had been carrying around and get down to business. I wanted to paint Chicago in it’s entirety. I choose to start painting a portrait … I wanted a face concretized that would be everything our journey and Chicago was.
We had a rough night after Beauty Bar. First a long walk to Hollywood Grill, a 24 hour diner we were informed was close by. Long walk. Both Hot Chocolate and I were drifting off a little after our meal and were awakened by a manager smacking the table and shouting, “This isn’t the bus station!”.
We did indeed decide to go back to Union Station at that point, closed. Closed after our taxi couldn’t find the 24 hour Starbucks and we paid twice what the subway would have cost. Arriving at the train station meant waiting around another hour or so until they opened, luckily a security guard was able to sneak us into the lobby of a skyscraper around 4am so we could use facilities.
At the train station we curled up on the floor in the waiting area of our boarding platform and were awakened by an intercom announcing no sleeping in the boarding area and an Amtrack police officer asking me to sit down in a little chair so he could question me. The officer was quelled after seeing our tickets and telling me he could make it so we did not ride the Amtrack and we had to find some other way to get home. I had asked him why I was being forced to sit down and listen to him and that was his answer …
We decided to leave and instead sought out a place of universally good customer service, Mcdonalds.
More sleep, peacefully. And I had the opportunity to meet some very cool local writers in the city, eager to tell me about their hometown and hear about our journey. After final moments before a monday sun rose into the Chicago skyline, Hot Chocolate and I ventured off with a newfound positive outlook, we had found rest at the McDonalds. About an hour or so of it.
Walking and walking took us to a grassy little hill next to a major intersection, I set up shop. Hot Chocolate and I fantasized about the city, dreaming and thinking of what things could be. The intersection we were face was major, perhaps a couple thousand people saw my paintings displayed on the hill …
Hot Chocolate and I were able to have a time of fun and adventure, we lived in the moment and we lived as Post Apocalyptic nomads exploring the city. This was our journey. Hot Chocolate and I both sacrificed a lot to make our journey, but with new experience comes new expression and our cycle of existence is only expanded by challenge.