Friday, May 25, 2007

How do you write a book review for a 15 year old book? It’s not new, but it is not old enough to have begun the endless war with time and relevance that all works of art must undertake. It’s not yet the same as writing at length about books by long dead people from decades long before I was born, or even work by Salinger, whom is socially dead by his own design. Wayne is not dead. He is still very much greeting Chicago daily with 2 fists raised up, his back endlessly against filthy gangway bricks.

I always dug The Holy Terror, and not just for the omnipresent Chicago scenery and mood, though that is wonderful. Reading it for the first time 9 or so years ago I remember being struck by the wash of grey in the characters, environment, and conclusion. The conclusion is unsettling and unresolved, something I enjoyed immensely back then. The Painkiller is still out there, lurking in Chicago’s broken streets, though gentrification has certainly shoved him out of Wicker Park (I’ll also gather that Humboldt is too pricey as well). I loved the way the city breathed on each page and became a hulking character in the corner of each scene.

This past week’s reading was a bit different. I found all the things above still there in the same ways they had been before, but I ended up focusing on what wasn’t there – the attractive people coming and going, the nice bars, the good neighborhood with the nice homes on its blocks, and the pain free people. These things are mentioned sparsely and then forgotten. There seems to be a brutal disconnect of the world all of the characters occupy and the rest of Chicago. It is very clear that there are two (maybe Infinite) Chicagos at play here, and that Wayne only cares about the one with grime, filth, broken cement, and pain ridden humans, each responding differently to themselves. It is interesting to think of the true Wicker Park of 1989 in the novel and place it next to the true Wicker Park of today and see that the other Chicago steamrolled Wayne’s characters and their world. Their stomping grounds were not very happy so maybe that’s ok. Chicago is a big place and there will always be dirty alleys and narrow gangways for Vic and Haid to retreat into. They are still out there for sure, stumbling around El platforms.

I can’t recommend this book enough, both as an excellent modern horror tale and a true snapshot of Chicago. It’s not that expensive. C’mon, read a great book and then tell Wayne about it.

Oh yeah, while I’m telling you how to spend your money, buy a Cognition cap. Mine fits better than any other cycling cap I’ve ever bought. Good hat, good people.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Through a few patches of old growth pine...

Before the rain in the afternoon, Saturday was a beautiful 60 degree day in the North woods. This is a beautiful, smooth road through the Timms Hill County Park, near Rustic Road 62 (do people actively try to visit all of the rustic roads?) and Ogema. These woods up north never cease to impress me. Summer is pretty much here.

It was 36 degrees Sunday morning. Summer is maybe not here just yet.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Oats, brah.

It starts out poorly but I think the story pays off.

I eat oatmeal every morning at my desk and therefore have the big cardboard cylinder container in my drawer. Now, it’s cheapest to buy the big 6lb boxed plastic bags of oatmeal at Sam’s club and just fill up the cylinder every 3 weeks or so. Like I’m carrying a fragile newborn babe I end up walking home every now and again with the cylinder in my hand to avoid getting it smashed in my bag. I assume it looks a little silly. While walking home the other day I passed a guy my own age that nodded and then added , “Way to go with the oats, brah.” It was not sarcastic at all. It felt like it needed a high five and a gentle smile in the vein of some phrase like “Yeah, I recycle as well, brah.”

Only in Madison. Cred for eating oatmeal.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Hotel in Homer, AK. Check.

Reservation on Halibut and Salmon charter boat? Check.

Canoeing long days with maximum daylight in the Kenai Refuge? Check.

Most of my wilderness adventures have been in Wisconsin, Minnesota or Michigan – the Midwest at the very least. My impending June trip to Alaska has me remembering that almost every time I head to the woods I bring along my dogged copy of Hemingway’s complete short stories. It has only seldom been accurate, but reading about Nick Adams and looking around at the streams and birches surrounding me makes it believable that I am right where he wrote those stories about 100 years ago. The countryside would have easily looked the same. I did visit the two hearted river last summer in the UP and while it was just as beautiful and similar to all of the north woods I’ve seen in my lifetime, it also added a bit extra for the Hemingway nerd. But, Hemingway never set foot in Alaska. It seems odd that it never came to happen in his life of travel and adventure, but it eluded him. I’ll still drag along the short stories on my canoe trip but it might not be the same. Maybe it’s time to bring along the complete works of Jack London and read beyond the main novels and more famous short stories…