The other day, I was doing a little end of the summer cleaning . The kind of cleaning where you find a box in your crawl space and then spend the next two hours combing through little scraps of papers, books, the odd bad photo and other mementos that you felt compelled to stick in a box and then shove in a crawl space and then forget about. Most of the contents of the box have now been filed on the curb accordingly. The one thing I did find that made me smile was this ticket stub for the first Lollapalooza.
A few things struck me about the ticket: first I couldn’t believe how long ago that was, next how cheap it was for an all day concert ($28.50) especially for floor seats ( we were seated close to the front of the stage) and finally the slogan “Take the Whole Day Off”.
I guess in the early nineties; festivals were in a kind of limbo in North America (after Woodstock before Coachella) and the idea of spending a whole day watching bands was a novelty let alone a lineup as wacky as this one. This is who I saw on that beautiful summer’s afternoon. It was a Wednesday.
I actually went to the concert with my English professor at the time. (He was an interesting guy: he drove around in an old postal truck that had the steering wheel on the right side instead of the left.This is the car he took his driver’s licence test in.) The festival was the brainchild of Perry Farrell and was to be the fair-well tour of Jane’s Addiction with all its’ original members. They ended up closing the show in style. Other highlights included: getting a water bottle thrown at my head by one of the keyboardists from Nine Inch Nails (not Trent Reznor and yes we were that close), seeing Ice T perform with the short lived hardcore group Body Count and being witness to the birth of something unique that persists to this day.
Farrell had a very radical idea for the time; combining diverse musical genres all under one roof and having the confidence in his audience that they could appreciate it all. This was long before the IPod shuffle function would lay waste to the genre-centric music collecting of old. The response was universally positive.
That’s my little cleaning story. While going through this process, I realized that searching through boxes in the crawl space is similar to finding articles on the internet. You tend to throw out more than you keep but every once in a while you find things that make you smile.
The last time I was in Chicago they were cleaning Sunday Afternoon on The Island of La Grande Jatte by Seurat. It was the only time in The Art Institute of Chicago’s history (after acquiring the work) that it was not on display. Needless to say, I was more than a little disappointed. I knew I had to come back and see it with my own eyes. I believe you need to be in the presence of an artwork to truly appreciate it. In the age of the reproduction, there is nothing like the real thing and I must say Georges did not disappoint and neither did the rest of Chicago.
The home of the skyscraper is truly a feast for the eyes. It’s public art is second to none in North America, with works by Calder, Miro, Dubuffet, and Picasso among others. One of the greatest pieces of public art to ever been created in my opinion would be Anish Kapoor‘s Cloud Gate. It appeals to everyone. Children and adults are drawn to it. It reflects its environment while completely asserting its individuality within the environment. The viewer sees themselves in the experience of interacting with art when they stand near it. The residents of Chicago have given it the affectionate nick-name ‘The Bean’ that talks to its pleasing shape. It is the perfect ambassador for public art.
Public art can easily be dwarfed by its surroundings, but Chicago gets it right every time. The buildings in Chicago are pieces of art on to themselves. A wonderful example of this is Jeanne Gang’s Aqua completed in 2010. The closer you get to it the more interesting it becomes. Everywhere you look in Chicago reveals another building marvel. Just outside of the center of town Frank Lloyd Wright made his home in Oak park where he changed his neighborhood and then the history of architecture with his ‘Prairie’ style. The walking tour is a great way to spend the afternoon.
* The idea for the ‘reflection photos’ came about by accident. A few years back while visiting the Eiffel Tower, my wife snapped a picture of me with the glasses on and we discovered that you could see the tower. We try to snap a couple of shots everywhere we go and hopefully it will turn into a fun series over the years. I totally encourage others to get in on the idea. All you need is a pair of mirrored shades, a camera and a little sense of adventure. People tend to stare at you funny when you’re wearing shades in a gallery. Document your travels and world as reflected by your eyes. Please keep me posted, I would love to see the results.
I have a very distinct memory of myself as a kid sitting in my parent’s basement on this crazy fire-engine red carpet watching one of those oversized tube televisions. My older brother and I were flipping through the channels when we stumbled upon a show that described unexplained things and purported real-life monsters. As a kid, the idea of real-life monsters was completely intoxicating and I was immediately hooked. The show was In Search of…. with Leonard Nimoy and the episode was Bigfoot.
The idea of Sasquatch is as old as the hills but it was in the seventies when it really took off. There was a rash of reported sightings in the Pacific Northwest, an unbelievable piece of film shot by Roger Patterson and Bob Gimlin in 1967 and shows like In Search of… that were fueling the Bigfoot flames. Along with In Search of… there were so called documentaries like The Mysterious Monsters (1976) or movies like The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972). All these productions followed the same formula: part wildlife nature program mixed with costumed reenactments of supposed real-life encounters. They all also included ‘the Bigfoot cam’ where we the viewer get to see what Sasquatch sees from a first person perspective as he trundles through the woods pausing occasionally to give out a blood curdling yowl. With those awesome seventies’ production values, I was in heaven.
Trends come and go, and soon television moved on as well, inevitably replacing Steve Austin with Colt Seavers but by this time it was already too late for me, the imprint on my psyche was irreversible. Decades past and ‘the mysterious monster’ kept a pretty low profile, keeping out of sight but somehow always still in my periphery. To this day I’m a big fan of the big guy and right now (lucky for me) he is going through a mini television renaissance. Programs like Destination Truth and Finding Bigfoot are trying to fill those over-sized shoes that In Search of… left behind. The new breed of paranormal reality shows that have to try and scrape together an hours’ worth of watchable material of people bumbling around in the dark has me transfixed again. Bigfoot’s back on TV, kind of – because you never actually get to find him.
All discussions about Bigfoot will eventually lead to the matter of belief. So, do you believe in Bigfoot? For most people it is a matter of proof. For me, after watching countless hours of programs, having read numerous books and blogs I realize it’s not as simple as a yes or no answer. I love the idea of Bigfoot. He is as equally intriguing from both perspectives of his existence and it’s that balancing act that keeps me hooked.
If he does exist, then the kid in me is tickled pink. The kid in me would like to hope that the world still holds mysteries. I hope I can keep an open mind, be considerate to alternative possibilities and not prejudge something because it’s unfamiliar to me. Embracing the idea of Bigfoot is embracing the unknown.
There are some strong arguments in his favour. The strongest being the thousands of eye witness reports from all over the world along with the various footprints found. One of the best presents I ever received was when my wife gave me one of the casts. I have physical evidence of a (supposed) fictitious creature. I love it for its contradiction. The other thing Bigfoot has going for him is that the size of the wilderness he inhabits is absolutely immense. In my younger years, I lived in a small town in the interior of British Columbia. One afternoon I had the opportunity to take a plane ride over the mountains. From the vantage point of the small four seat aircraft you could see for miles and miles and all you saw were trees. The sheer vastness of it was humbling. It is not unbelievable that something could go undetected.
But he doesn’t always go undetected and that is why I also like the idea that he does not exist. This tickles my inner conceptual artist. If Bigfoot doesn’t exist then where are we getting all these photos, stories and videos? In many cases people are projecting their unfiltered beliefs onto an unfamiliar sound in the woods or a cluster of shadows in a blurry photograph. In other instances, people out there are generating the evidence themselves, perpetuating a hoax that has lasted for decades. The more believable images are the work of magicians. (Actually the magicians Penn and Teller created their own film for their television show Bullsh!t which went on to fool a great number of people.) The amount of time, effort and creativity that goes into something of this nature is intriguing. As our technology improves the fakery will also improve.
In the end it’s the mystery that keeps me hooked. I want to believe …..but I hope I never find out.
Teeth of the Sea
Because it’s shark week…. 10 fun facts about Jaws.