Chicago Part 2: And All That Jazz

Author’s Note: At the time this post was published, my site was named Glamorous Gypsy. It has since been rebranded as The Scripting Gypsy to reflect a change in artistic direction.

At this point, I feel I should pause and address the name of my site, which will also be the name of my pop-up clothing resale store. I want to appear “Glamorous” because I want people to buy my clothes, but the irony is that my real gypsy life is about as UN-glamorous as it gets! It mostly consists of no-name farm towns, truck stops, cheap motels, and surviving on Cheez-Its and bad coffee. But I love it anyway.

A few notes about Illinois:

  • Holy TOLLS! I’ve never seen so many toll roads in my life. I’ve spent around $10 in quarters and dimes in the last 2.5 days. I was particularly struck by the irony of the so-called “Veterans’ Memorial Tollway.” Are veterans receiving all this money? I highly doubt it.
  • In case anyone wasn’t aware, Chicago is a BIG BIG BIG city. When I first visited Chicago with my sister eight years ago, we had locals showing us around and taxis taking us everywhere – it wasn’t just ME trying to figure it out alone. This time, I was so lost and confused that I frequently missed my turns even as my GPS dictated the directions. Riding the subway would have been faster, but I didn’t dare leave my car unattended for too long, lest I get lost or my car/home get stolen.
  • Illinois drivers are ferocious! They will mow down anyone that can’t keep up, and they get pissed if you even hesitate. They briefly got the best of me yesterday in Highland Park, just north of the city – I got in a bit of a fender bender. I’m okay (promise) and the people in the other car were okay; they only suffered a bit of damage to their rear bumper. As our two cars drove through a busy intersection on a green light, the car in front of them made an illegal right turn. They stopped abruptly, I slammed on my brakes, but I couldn’t avoid hitting them. Luckily, the police officer who arrived on the scene was nice enough to not give me a ticket since I’m from out of state and would have had to come back for court. Mom and Dad, go ahead and put the insurance policy in my name so I can spend the next ten years paying it off.

While perusing the alt-weekly newspaper, I spotted a listing for a jazz exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art, so I headed downtown to check it out. The exhibit is called “The Freedom Principle: Experiments in Art and Music, 1965 to Now,” and it was STUNNING! The theme was African-American jazz musicians and artists of the late 60’s and 70’s finding creativity amidst the struggle for social equality.

The following photos are from the exhibit, and my commentary is below:

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(Yes, that last one is a painting – each dot of color is a brush stroke. The woman pictured is “looking toward a bright future.”)

While admiring the artwork, I got to thinking about modern race relations in America and how our attitudes differ from those of the sixties.

Young black people are so disconnected from their roots — most don’t know anything about jazz music or art, and the music they’re fed by MTV and BET from people who look like them is utterly soulless and degrading. There’s no unification or hope found in cultural pursuits like the people of the jazz era created. So there’s the sense that social progress CAN’T be achieved UNLESS the discrimination from authority figures goes away — but these early jazz artists didn’t see it that way. When the city and the media ignored the needs of the inner city, they beautified their own southside Chicago slums with giant murals and streetside drum circles. They preserved their own African-American culture and decided they were going to leave an indelibly positive mark on history and forge their own “bright future” (see above) WHETHER the dominant authorities believed in them or not. That’s so inspiring to me.

Right out in front of the Museum was a free weekly farmers’ market, where I ate the best grilled (artisanal) cheese sandwich I’ve ever had in my life.

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I spent the rest of the day walking and driving around the city in search of the best Chicago-style deep-dish pizza. I found it at Giordano’s in the Beverly neighborhood on the south side. The pizza was so tall, I could only eat 2 slices and I was full!

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From there, I found another airBnB room close by in a beautiful little bungalow owned by a nice woman named Violeta.

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I’ve had a great time in Chicago, but this city is EXPENSIVE and it’s time to get back on the road again. (Every time I say that, I can’t help but hear Bob Seger in my head.)

Kisses on your faces,

❤ LMK

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9 comments

  1. So true, Lindsay (regarding the accomplishments of African American artists, musicians, etc). And that applies to all of us. We are trapped in the belief that our own happiness and accomplishment relies on the acceptance of those who wouldn’t accept us regardless of what we did anyway. We think that perhaps if we elected just the right politician, lived in just the right place, made just the right amount of money, all will be perfect. My own life has never changed, one iota, based on who was in Washington. Life’s outcomes are based on our own choices, not theirs. Living the life you choose tends to make you immune to the passing whims and social attitudes of the day. Good luck on your adventure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading my blog, Uncle Ian! Sorry it’s taken me so long to respond to your comments. I like what you said about seeing our outcomes in life as the product of our own choices, rather than the hands we’re dealt. It’s more empowering to see things that way, but it requires a sense of personal responsibility, which many refuse to adopt. Believe me, I KNOW how infuriating it can be to see your leaders institutionalizing policies and laws that directly favor certain groups and ignore or disempower others. I see it and experience it every day. In fact, I was in tears driving through Nebraska just thinking about the lengths that rich and powerful people will go to limit the freedoms and destroy the happiness of those who have so much less. It makes me sick. Politics is like a virus that rots me from the inside out, and what’s worse is that it turns people against each other instead of bringing us together. And the great deliverer of those poisonous lies we come to believe about ourselves is the mainstream news media — they tell us to close off and live in fear of each other. The people they tell us should be our enemies are almost never truly our greatest threats. As Jon Stewart said in the wake of the Charleston church shooting, ISIS and Al-Qaeda have nothing on the damage we already cause ourselves and each other here at home. We have to be willing to question their narratives, form our own ideas, and strengthen our own communities instead of waiting for those at the top to do it for us. If I ever become a journalist (which isn’t out of the question), I’ll do it to tell the stories of the real people, activists, artists, and organizations doing good things to DESERVE the attention and light — not the paid-off talking heads seeking power for themselves. These jazz-era artists were an inspiration and a great example of what can happen when you write and tell your own story.

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      • Great writing and thoughts. Here’s the trick (that I discovered in my advancing age); You don’t HAVE to participate in that world. Yes, there are those who, day in and day out, legislate laws to constrict our freedom, and we have to go along with them or suffer their draconian punishments (there is an old Japanese saying that says ‘The nail that sticks up will be hammered down’), BUT it IS possible to create the world that you want to live in despite them. For the most part, there is little we can do about the big picture – our sphere of influence is very small. The greatest difference we can make is among the people who enter our little space.
        I attended a seminar once about personal power. One thing that sticks in my mind is how powerful we are in our own sphere. The disheveled guy you pass on the street might be so beaten down by life that a disdainful look might be the very last thing he needed to convince himself that life is, indeed, not worth living, OR your smile could be the one thing that makes him rethink his belief that there is nothing kind in the world, and maybe he should stick around for another day.
        Writing a check to ‘Save Darfur’ is nice, but we are confronted by suffering of all levels every day. Despite what we would like to think, we, ourselves cannot ‘save Darfur’, and to believe that we can save the greater world (and the sense of disillusion when we discover we can’t) is the root of depression. Very few of us are Gandhi or Mother Theresa, but we can certainly have an effect on our small world.
        Don’t let politics ‘rot you from the inside out’ – just refuse to participate. Let that be part of THEIR world, not yours. Their job is create a sense of hopelessness so they can claim to be the one to deliver ‘hope’. Their job is to create dependence on government, because with dependence comes control. Their job is to keep people divided and hating one another, and their media manipulates the emotions of people to that end. it’s funny, in my life I have had association with a huge spectrum of people and lifestyles, and I have NEVER seen those people or lifestyles portrayed accurately or honestly. Basically, it’s all agenda driven bullshit.
        Anyway, I’m guessing you might still be out on your adventure. I hope it’s a great one. My own adventures came with lots of hardships, but I don’t regret a single one.

        Liked by 1 person

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