Monday, November 22, 2010

Chicago Vacation: Day 2 (part two)

Okay, so after the Art Institute, my back was broken from standing around so much (ah, yes, the advance of age and infirmity!). Had a great lunch, and then went home to nap before my 1.5 hour hot stone massage in the hotel spa. Soooooo nice after a strenuous day bumming around the city.

Later that night I met up with Gretchen and her boyfriend Camilo for dinner at some little Mexican joint is Pilsen, and then we went to see Garbage Fest, a night of performance art/theatre. From what I can gather they kinda squat in a building and set up shop (and stage). So not sure how legal it is, but the various plays we saw were very thought-provoking and enjoyable. Plus, it so takes me back to my twenties to be in the city and just wandering into something really amazing just because there is so much going on in the city.

The place was decked out in these huge replicas of Garbage Pail Kids. Gretchen snapped a pic of me with this big fat satanic baby, but I haven't got the pic yet to post here. The hostess of the event was dressed up as a trashed up woman and I think she was carrying a forty with her while she gave 'drunken' introductions to the performers. The night started with a weird sort of wedding ceremony that was more flatulent than creative. Then these two guys came out and did a sort of weird intro (but I couldn't understand much of what they were saying into their mic). Their section ended well though. They had a strobe light behind a fan and were playing a repeated sound of what I think was a slowed down needle getting pulled across a vinyl record. The one guy was hunched over a tin bucket and yelled into the mic (NO. ONE. IS. FORCING. YOU. TO. DO. A. WHOLE. BUNCH. OF. STUFF. THAT. YOU. DON'T. WANT. TO. DO.). The other guys would emerge from behind the speakers and at set intervals timed to the words being said, approached the other guy and dumped some metal 'coins' in his bucket. Then the yelling guy immediately dumped them out and they did it again. Over and over and over and OVER!!! You start thinking, "This is pointless; why don't they just stop? AHA! I get it! Why don't any of us, right? Very futurist/theatre of the absurd.

The next guy came out in a strange yellow suit and did a bit of a monologue/prose poem/one man show. Part of his piece was lying out a replica of himself in his yellow suit on the floor made out of pieces of some kind of plastic. He was a little all over the place and the piece probably could have done better had he tried to not do so much. Still it was thought-provoking as you were watching it.

Then this other guy comes out with some sort of makeshift mixing board and for twenty minutes (the max time allowed), makes the most ear grinding noise by warping and twisting the noise created from his contraption. Interspersed with the noise were fragments of radio or TV programming from a snippet of a basketball sportscast to the Lava jingle to laugh tracks. By the end, many of us were plugging our ears because the noise was so loud that it made you worry about your hearing. Okay, I get it. The media is noise and we can't stand listening to it, but we don't shut it off. Still it was a bit overly annoying, though I guess theatre like this is supposed to be anti-entertaining to a certain extent. I still would have liked to wring the neck of the young guy in charge of this sound torture chamber by the time it was over.

The final piece was much bigger in scope. About ten actors/dancers involved. They were each dressed in a costume that was based off old oriental ritual garb, but instead of ornamentation the costumes bore trash: empty milkshake containers, fast food carry out containers, scraps of fabric, etc. They were moving around a maypole like contraption as an eastern-styled piece of music that sounded ritualistic droned on with gongs going off every so often. They paced around in a daze and then started trading junk with one another as they passed each other. Then they brought all their junk to the center and engaged in a frenzied dance like some sort of psychedelic voodoo ceremony. The theme obviously was the fetishization of commodities. It depicted society as a group of religious zealots/hoarders gathering and swapping their junk, oblivious to anything else. Falls flat in my text, but it was pretty hypnotic to see it performed largely due to the actors being so into the 'characters' and the really elaborate and clever trash/fetish gear.

Day 2 was over and I'm extremely pleased I decided to take a 'vacation' with some of that 'use it or lose it' PTO time, rather than just taking a bunch of 'days off.'

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