With the year winding down, and no where to go to use the rest of my vacation, I decided to take a couple of days off and execute a little holiday without leaving town. While Loop workers slaved away up in their offices, all I had to share the city with was retirees, bored field trippers, and the homeless.
Yesterday I went to the Art Institute. I love looking at art, though I will never pretend I understand it. At least on the level of some super-arty-snobby person. I actually don't think I have to, and I'm quite content with looking at a piece and thinking, "Hey, that's nice," or "Wowza, what was that guy smoking?" It's kind of funny to think the latter; when you're sizing up something that maybe that zany Renoir whipped up on a good buzz.
Art can capture the inner melancholy of man in the face of ultimate destruction or some such nonsense, but when I see countless shots of 18th century boobies, I'm thinking it's possible that one or two of these guys might have been feeling a little frisky. In paintings where women were happy their goods were hanging out. When they were being raped or kidnapped by centaurs their goods were hanging out. When they were just relaxing--yep ya guessed it--their goods were hanging out.
And I, like many other casual observers of art, can't really get into the modern stuff. The Art Institute had a small installation of some Cuban guy's work that I walked through for a kick. One piece was a strand of Christmas lights plugged in and laying on the floor. I wasn’t sure what to take away from that.
Next to the lights was a layer of hard candy wrapped in bright, multi-colored foil wrappers lying on the floor in a perfect rectangle. I walked past it and saw someone take a piece, unwrap it, and put it in their mouth. I was shocked, but of course it took me about two minutes before I did the same. Thankfully it was cool when a volunteer came in and started to explain how the number of candies correspond with the weight of the artist and by us eating the art, the piece is organic like he is. This guy standing there said to his companion, "Whatever, this is art? To me it's a snack," and grabbed another piece. Again, cool. We could have up to four pieces each the volunteer said. One was enough for me. It was the crappy stuff cheap neighbors used to give out at Halloween.
Today was Hyde Park day, home of the University of Chicago. Although my friends thought I was going museum hopping, I was actually on a quest to find a hot, single, Nobel Laureate under the age of 40.
No such luck.
However I did see 5,000-year-old human remains of an Egyptian, the Rockefeller Chapel, a Frank Lloyd Wright house, yet even more art, and I dined at the Medici--a place where the Chicago Seven hung out. From the graffitti on the walls there you can tell the University of Chicago is an Ivy-League caliber school. There were things written in what I think was Latin, and some nerd actually scribbled the question, "Dare I disturb the Universe?"
But the highlight had to be standing on the spot where WMD was born (where U of C scientists pulled off the first nuclear chain reaction). And after asking a couple of students coming out of the Fermi Institute where I could find the Doomsday Clock (started by Manhattan Project scientists who move us closer to Midnight as the world gets crazier) I was trekking to the southern edge of campus to this ramshackle building that houses the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.
The door was locked, so I rang the bell. This very unassuming young lady named Joy answered the door.
"Um, I want to see the Doomsday Clock," I said. I was going to make a case for bringing it a couple more minutes closer to midnight.
"You can't. It's in D.C. for our 60th anniversary," she responded very nicely. She then went on to tell me that it's normally up in a third floor conference room, and if it was there I could see it no problem.
She did show me a picture of it. I was anticipating some hulking, gothic looking thing. But it looks like some piece of crap the Bradys would have had in their living room. What a letdown.
Joy sent me on my way with a copy of their magazine (not nearly as boring as I thought it would be) and get this, an Atomic fire ball. Who knew smarties could have a sense of humor?
I popped it in my mouth, thanked Joy for her hospitality and headed out, but not before asking her if they had to set the clock back for daylight savings.