Thursday, September 04, 2008

will it play in peoria, an old expression from broadway in new york, was assumed to ask whether some outrageous piece of theater would go over in mid-america, in the heartland, in the heart of the heart of the country. but this gave the town of peoria a complex, or so local legend goes, so that in this illinois river town, four hours north of here, theater was said to be innovative and hoppin'. i never knew, of course, as i'd been through the place a number of times but never stopped to go to the theater. listened to john hartford's steamboat songs a few times though...

& got the opportunity over labor day, a holiday which like others i take seriously, to go up there to peoria to see family, in a small house with a half-dozen pear trees in the yard. a good place for labor day, good fresh sweet corn, garden tomatoes, huge barbecue, nice family, and the city itself was definitely taking the day off. the hotel had a pool, and the kids swam twice; it sweltered outside but we relaxed inside. now by the way i've been cutting millionaire bucks out of the st. louis post dispatch, now well over ten million i've cut for sure, not realistically expecting to win anything as everyone knows, or at least i know, that church groups work together to amass bigtime millionaire bucks, and the newspaper employees are not beyond cutting them out of large stacks of leftover newspapers, for though they themselves are barred from the contest, what harm is it if their friend wins a free car? so i set my sights low, gamble on the small stuff like a book of pizza coupons, and still have to bid my entire bundle of eleven million and not win it because some schmuck gambles 11.1 at 2:59. so it goes. i do it to feel the newsprint on my fingers, i do it because shuffling through old newspapers that i haven't quite read very thoroughly gives me a personal sense of walking through the past, but also i offer my humble stack to any church group or individual who wants to go together and possibly win a free pizza. why not? i'm not going up to st. louis or anything, to really get involved, and, anyone who writes me is more than welcome...

peoria's a factory town, i remember driving through there one day at five when the factories were letting out and listening to factory rock on the radio, they have caterpillar, and who knows what other factories, maybe not so many anymore, but it's also surrounded by miles and miles of corn, shimmering in the labor-day light, tassels waving in the breeze, particularly near an empty stretch of road with a big road sign saying "Use" on it...maybe that's the name of a town? a day later i'm teaching the very word, i used to live in kansas, i used to drive to school, i'm used to waking up early, a hammer is used to pound a nail, and i say to them, swear to god, there's a town called use. not that you'd want to go there or anything, or maybe you would, what do i know.

so meanwhile, in the middle of a very busy time, a very sweet former student brings back a postcard from china, where she's been at the olympics, and it's a very important postcard, a postcard of the big stadium, the bird's nest, being mailed on the very day of the opening ceremony, very meaningful as she points out, so i make pop art out of it (below), i could hardly wait, for some reason...not sure what andy warhol was saying about marilyn monroe, but i figure i could say the same thing about the bird's nest myself, and who would know the difference? but the question is, whether i should point it out to her, whether she would appreciate it, or think maybe i was poking fun, or worse, messing with an important symbol. no. it's kind of like, if it's a serious symbol, prominent, important, meaningful, all the more reason to put it in colors. don't know if my students would agree, and at the moment, the building is decorated with all these gajillion flags from all over, and sure enough, all the new macs have these built in cameras to make pop-art. but i do have to look into andy w. a little more, what do i know about pop art? is there any evidence of what he actually meant, with his four marilyn monroes, all different colors, lips in purple, besides, art is what you can get away with, and, i'm a deeply superficial person?

had a good visit, a daughter and son-in-law came all the way from seattle, the peoria hosts were wonderful, musta eaten a half a dozen pears, but forgot to grab a bucket to bring home. back here, it's raining a soft drizzle, cooled it down a little, and i'm behind at work, behind on blogging, got stacks and plants taking over the office. i make pop art, i swim, i gamble on pizza with my millionaire bucks which i'd love to donate...the classes fly by, & i use the pop-art function on the school computer at every opp. why not. that rich taste of homegrown pear, fresh sweet corn, still in my mouth, stories of lake washington, microsoft, the iowa floods, and various things to chew on...

and then, in the peoria motel, i'm in a wet bathing suit with a wet kid or two maybe, and this older couple, tux and bridal gown and computer printer, get into the elevator. older, but tolerant, gentle, friendly people. obviously dressed for a wedding, and it turns out it's their daughter, and their daughter is a stage manager for the peoria theater. a stage manager who has every step of the wedding absolutely choreographed, and has even been printing the details, on this very printer, for months. guess that makes you parents of the bride- congratulations, i said. and have a happy labor day.


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