As I will discuss in a later blog post, I am no Lance Armstrong (news flash to some of the Lakeshore Bike Path riders: y'all probably aren't either), but I do have a bike, so when I reached
job applications (you read it right), I decided to reward myself with a nice day off. Since it was a Tuesday, it was a free admissions day at the Museum of Contemporary Art, and I am really into the whole "not spending money unless I really have/want to" thing, I thought it might be an inspired idea to ride my bike down to the MCA to take advantage of the day, as part of my continuing mission to improve myself and foster an understanding of the arts and blah blah blah
I get on Ormen Lange (my name for my bike...it means "longship," but I think it sounds really cool), and I started off, and just about the time I hit the Lakeshore Bike Path I realized a few things:
1. Getting 3 hours of sleep was a POOR choice, because I was TIRED 2. It was 86 degrees for the first time in days, and I was dressed for not-that temperature and 3. I was still sore from what was probably an overly-ambitious bike project two days prior
I wasn't going to be able to make it to the MCA in the amount of time I'd allotted, so I decided to just head south and see how far I could get (that's the Kate Way, it seems) before taking a mini-break.
Something you should know further about the bike path is that places to lock a bike are rather isolated. Sometimes you'll find one, other times not, so I was actually reasonably close to the Loop when decided that I didn't want to keep riding till I found the next bike rack, I just wanted to get a little shade.
Hard to find when you want it!
I pulled over onto the grass, behind the construction zone that blocked the lake from the path, and I saw this:
EASILY been just getting dirty enough to pose for Abercrombie or something. All of them were hipsters, and all of them were just...wow...don't see that every day.
So I saw this happening and thought "I want to go to there," so I sat in the shade of a tree, locked my bike to it, and took out my notebook to write a bit. As I'm sitting there I notice that the more tired/not-covered-in-paint people were sitting on blankets under a tree close by. It felt very much like Tuebingen's old botanical garden in the inner city, so I decided to sketch them too very roughly:
they were laying around, chatting, getting up occasionally to take a call; they just radiated a great vibe, but what parts of their conversation I could hear was in Not-English.
As the morning wore on, odd, steampunk-esque equipment started to be rolled out and set up radiating from the "stage."
They were puzzling, and their functions were very mysterious. They appeared to be really artistic but also strange, and bearded hipsters kept running around and adjusting them, testing wheels and gears, and then they brought out something akin to a cherry-picker but more low-tech. The guy operating it extended the ladder, and one of the stage-painters ran up, which confused me, because the ladder was high enough that they couldn't actually do anything up there.
Well, he figured out something to do with it:
So then a girl runs up the ladder, and now she's dangling from his arms, and they're going all "cirque du crazy" on it, which I find terrifying.
Then, not a meter from me, this woman comes up to the mic stand and starts vocally noodling around. She is kind of trying for a "Heavy Metal Bjork" + sitar vibe if that makes any sense, but she was having some (hah, understatement) intonation problems. So this lady is singing in a language I don't know, kind of going crazy, while pretty people are painting, operating weird machinery and tumbling around, and the sun is baking us all.
At this point, I decided that I should start asking questions, so I approached one young fellow and asked him
Yeah, the stage and all that.
Yeah, we're a performing arts group of international artists. We're putting on a show, it like centers around this Norwegian rock star...
Ok, so Norway appears to follow me around, because now it's in my parks! I have actually no problems with this, but I just want to point out that this is one of those "aggressively small world" moments
So they're a troop of just folks, this guy was American, but there were a bunch of Finns in the group, doing the technical adjustments, and they were setting up for their performances. Since rain was in the forecast for the rest of the week, they were taking this chance to get things working. He then reached into his paint-streaked cargo shorts and pulled out a crumpled-up flier. "Sorry it's not in great shape, but...yeah..." and then he went back to work.
I then returned to my place under the tree, complimented the singer, and we chatted for a bit. She wasn't really as...umm...familiar with the Norwegian cultural "touch stones" as I had hoped (her exposure to Eurovision, it seems, is minimal), but she's certainly an interesting cat.
I was kind of confused and delighted at what was going on, so I sat to the side along with the regular citizens of Chicago, trying to figure everything out. I was there for quite a few hours, to the point that I started to burn a little bit, and then I thought "Do I want to bike to the MCA and show up all sweaty and gross and tired, or was this good enough to call it a day and bike home?" I decided that stumbling into a whimsical international gymnastics quasi-circus was enough for my day, and I started my bike ride home.
Sorry the drawings are so rudamentary. I wanted to get the visual information down before it went away or changed, and so I didn't have time to make it perfect.
Morals of the story:
When G-d closes a door, he opens a circus
Always have a camera