After the best part of two days on the train to Chicago I decided to walk the mile or so from the station to the hotel – I was carrying very little luggage, as is my way.
I was trying to get to Congress Avenue. The map made it look easy to find, which was just as well because I didn’t want to have to say to somebody, “Excuse me, I’m looking for Congress.”
As I walked I saw plenty of “street people” on the streets. In LA we’re used to seeing tents and improvised shelters on the sidewalks, and I couldn’t tell you if these guys hanging out were homeless or not. Some were certainly what we used to call panhandlers, but some of these guys seemed more interested in talking to each other that approaching passersby. But as I passed a small group of men at a corner one of then said very loudly, “Motherfucker!” I couldn’t tell whether he was addressing me or the universe in general. I chose to believe the latter, but I speeded up in any case.
That was not my best walking moment in Chicago, but this was, at the Art Chicago Institute there was this, an installation by James Webb titled Prayer:
It involves a long broad stretch of carpet with loudspeakers embedded in it, and you experienced the work by taking your shoes off and walking among the speakers each of which is broadcasting a prayer from a different faiths. As you walk you can stop and concentrate on one message or listen simultaneously to two or to many of them in a cacophony.
Apparently some people kneel or even lie on the carpet, but I didn't see any of that, and for quite a bit of the time I was the only one in the time I was there I was the only there, at least until these gals arrived.