To see my tribute to Flo, go here

See about helping Flo's Haitian artist friends at Jakmel Ekspresyon

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Chicago trip

I took a weekend trip to Chicago. At Kansas City airport, I knew that the virtual strip search machines were installed at the Southwest Airlines checkpoint, and I could be facing my first confrontation over opting out of that inspection. The machine was on the left side after you entered, and I was able to turn right; anyway the machine was roped off, not in operation.

With my A34 boarding pass, I found the high-legroom exit row all open, and took the window seat. I have enough drink coupons that I had a cocktail even on this morning flight. On arrival at Midway Airport, I went to the transit station to take the el into town. I planned for my only use of the transit system to be the round trip at $4.50; I knew that the cash machines didn't give change; I saw a machine that sold passes for credit card payment, but the attendant said it didn't sell regular tickets. Anyway, I had $4.50 in cash to buy a fare card, but when I returned I saw that on the back side of the bank of machines, there was one that appeared to sell regular fare cards for credit cards. I took the Orange Line to Roosevelt, and took the rather long transfer route from the elevated platform to the underground Red Line, which I took to Grand. That was close to the hotel where I was booked, the Comfort Inn on Ohio St.

The room wasn't ready yet, and I checked my bags. I'd talked to Sue earlier, and it was established that we'd meet in the late afternoon. It was getting to be 11 a.m., and I decided to have lunch at the Billy Goat, the "Chizborger" place of early Saturday Night Live fame. Then I went across Millennium Park to the Art Insitute, a main interest of this trip being to see the new Modern Wing.

Entering there, there was the main entrance hall; in the galleries to the side, there was a show of photography of the U.S. South by William Eggleston. I went into the main building for the show of Matisse from 1913 to 1917, important in his movement towards Cubism and less objective work; he cited "methods of modern construction." I had a quick look at some American work in the main building. Back to the Modern Wing, designed by Renzo Piano: I didn’t like that there was no clear direction to the galleries. The main way to go was by stairs, on the side rather than a grand staircase, and I suppose that is part of encouraging energy saving. The signs going by gallery numbers were a little unclear about how one should visit the galleries. These galleries had modern art of varying interest to me; some of my favorites were by Balthus and Magritte. The third floor gallery was on the north side, and there was no connection to the Bridgeway from Millennium Park to the third floor on the south side. I went down and up by elevator to exit that way; if I’d entered by the Bridgeway, coming in by a restaurant, it would have been a confusing way to enter. I understand that the concept is that the Griffin Court, the main entrance hall, divides the two pavilions of the Modern Wing.

I went back to the hotel and found my small room ready. I went briefly around shopping streets, got back, and got the call that Sue and Barnaby would be picking me up. Flo had seen Barnaby off for his departure from Port-au-Prince the day before the earthquake; I’d picked this weekend at random for a Chicago trip, and then learned that Barnaby would be there for a conference. They came to meet me, and I learned there that we were going to dinner at Sue’s parents in the distant suburb of Batavia. The expressway out of town was jammed with construction, but it was eventually clear going. Barnaby had taken the small jump seat in the back of the pickup cab, and I learned that he was dealing with tremendous nerve pain.

Sue's parents gave us a nice steak dinner, and I admired how much support they give to Sue for her unorthodox choices. The conversation went differently than I planned, where I wanted to piece together details about the events around the earthquake and Flo's death, but I learned a lot during the drive back. Sue and Barnaby were planning to be at parties well into the night, but I declined to go, ready to be at the hotel at midnight and make a little use of my room.

I got up in time to have breakfast when it opened at 7, checked out, and walked to the State/Lake el station rather than go with a transfer. I got through the turnstile just as the right train was pulling in at 7.50; I got to Midway a little over 30 minutes later. I'd printed my boarding pass at the airport kiosk because the 24-hour mark came shortly after my inbound arrival. The system didn't go right to the boarding pass from my credit card, or my Rapid Rewards number after that; they then asked for my confirmation code, delaying getting in from the opening second, and I got pass B9. This meant that I could go straight from the walkway from the el station to security without going to check-in at the upper level. The TSA directed my line to a checkpoint they'd just opened in an area off to the side.

It was a full flight, not too eventful I'd prepared part of this document offline at Midway and on the plane. At KCI, with free wi-fi, I paused on arrival to copy what I'd written from my netbook to Google Docs. When that was done, the doors out of the sterile area were closed; I was able to get out where there was an agent to ask for assistance; I wasn't about to cause an incident by opening a door with an "Alarm will sound" warning.