Monday, 4 February 2002

Diana Slickman 2002


from RIDDLEY WALKER


The worl is ful of things waiting to happen. Thats the meat and boan of it right there. You myt think you can jus go here and there doing nothing. Happening nothing. You cant tho you bleeding cant. You put your self on any road and some thing wil show its self to you. Wanting to happen. Waiting to happen. You myt say 'I dont want to know.' But 1ce its showt its self to you you wil know wont you. You cant not know no mor. There it is and working in you. You myt try to put a farness be twean you and it only you cant becaws youre carrying it inside you. The waiting to happen aint out there where it ben no more its inside you.

I left this in the Chicago Cultural Center. The Cultural Center used to be Chicago's main library and is probably the closest thing the city has to a secular cathedral. It was built after the Civil War, by the Grand Army of the Republic, for the dual purpose of housing the city's library and honoring the veterans of the Union Army. It is kind of shabby and magnificent at the same time. Now it serves many functions: it holds the offices of the city's department of cultural affairs, houses the Museum of Broadcast Communications, has several gallery spaces, a couple of lecture/theater spaces, a concert hall, an informal performance space, a café. People from all strata of Chicago's population go there, from the homeless to the well-heeled (or well-healed, if you prefer). To arrive at the main hall, one climbs a staircase of white Carrera marble, encrusted with glass and gold mosaics in geometric patterns. The hall itself has a huge stained glass dome and high on the walls are quotes from authors of different countries and literary traditions, carved into the marble in their original languages. When I went there on Monday, a man was in this room playing a grand piano; practicing to rows and rows of empty chairs. A woman sat on a wide low window ledge and looked out on to Michigan Avenue while he played, but otherwise the room was empty. I sat down to listen for a minute, clutching my yellow paper. Suddenly the man stopped playing and picked up his cell phone which was sitting on the piano. He examined it while it bleeped, but did not answer it. I unfolded my yellow paper and slipped it on to the seat in front of me, feeling very sly. The man resumed playing; I listened a little longer and then went back to my office to eat my lunch.

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