The Dialogue National Tour in Chicago, ILI could not reach our Parks Department contact before we arrived in Chicago, so I was not quite sure about the final logistics of our location. So, we initially set-up by the famous Buckingham Fountain, which ended up being the wrong spot. We quickly found out what happens when you don't have the correct "golden" permit and were quickly kicked out of that spot and moved over to a park across the bridge from the beautiful Millennium Park.
Setting up Dialogue entails quite a bit of physical effort, so setting-up, then packing-up and then setting-up again was tiring... and we did not get into our second spot until around noon.
A beautiful, sculptural pedestrian bridge leads from the Millennium Park over a freeway to the park we were in. So, there were quite a few people enjoying the pleasant walk and then landing at the base of our project. We had a big rush of people around lunch and then it was a bit quiet the rest of the day.
I spent a couple of hours exploring the extraordinary new Millennium Park and it's public art, including "the bean" and giant towering fountains with video panel faces.
After steering Shell Truck 500 curving miles flanked by leafy forest and pastoral heartland, Warren certainly was far away and polar to this Big City. As we burrowed into Chicago's maze of streets, it was not easy staying behind the Nissan Armada. All the curious, surprised and delighted Chicagoans' responses seeing Shell Truck begged my smiling acknowledgment.
Finally, we get to Blake and Mike's hotel, then, the one Bret and I are lodged in. Bret's million dollar smile out the window heartens me, and I smile big back. Finding our room, we drop our things and Bret heads out the door. Minutes later, I'm off on my own adventure.
A few blocks' walk, I'm at Lake Michigan's edge - stumbling into a gorgeous picture to become part of! I wander through this painting and end up on "Magnificent Mile". After eating in a little trattoria, I find my way to the top of the John Hancock Tower and spend a long, gorgeous sunset gawking over everything until it was too dark to see.
Next day is installation day. Mike and Blake meet us at Buckingham Fountain. We drive Shell Truck onto the sand and set up. It's early and the place is pretty empty but for a few joggers. Then a man comes by and gets engrossed in reading. We talk. He's a teacher "over there" he points, and this is great stuff. Nice welcome.
A busload of kids unload and they squeal on seeing Shell Truck and whip out their cell phone cameras while the teachers read the quotes and ride herd. Should be a good day. They leave, and in comes a hatchet-faced Chicago Mobster - no, he's the city Parks Security keeping the peace... and space... space. Unimpressed by the screens or by us either, for that matter, he just wants the permit. No human traits at all in evidence. Just stone.
Finally, he says we've got to move. We are permitted for a place a few blocks away. We have little choice. Mike is frustrated and ready to split. We end up moving over there, but it takes all morning to break down, move, then set back up. Meanwhile, Mike isn't happy. The new spot is shady and sweet, but without much traffic.
My favorites were a gaggle of pubescent boys walking by who spotted quotes on sex on one statue and were in love. So hormonally inspired, they contributed many quotes to our quote book. There was one thoughtful young man among them, however, who lingered to write some really great insights and share them with me.
Later in the day, a few people really "got" the project and when they found out we had no permit for our next stop, Denver, tried to help. One had a relative in the Denver bureaucracy and gave us their number. Others came to the fore as well. People view this project as important and join in by going to bat for us. That's real feedback. Like the guy who gave us Kofi Annan's fax number and said, "Call him! This needs to be in front of the United Nations!"
The next day we're supposed to leave. Bret is with Mike and Blake when they call and say they're shooting B roll at the Buckingham Fountain and I'm supposed to pack the truck and meet them there.
Hefting both Bret's and my own extensive luggage into the passenger side of the cab nearly blocks out all view or room to shift, but off I barely trundle to the amazement of Ambassador East's doormen. Into one city-wide traffic jam. No matter where I go, an ambulance always comes up with sirens blasting right behind me forcing me to make crisis moves. It seems the whole city's in crisis. Finally, finally, I survived to park in front of the SUV, with only Blake sitting in it.
Later, we all hooked up. Mike was in a funk. There were some technical problems with the filming and he was tired. It began to rain. He was through. We talked turkey to him, while Blake filmed. When we finally left town with clouds massing on the horizon, it took us only minutes to be in the most spectacular deluge of our lives. I couldn't even see the road, and the rain poured through the littlest opening. Shell Truck received a much needed natural bathing... onto St. Louis!