Cicadas calling constantly here in Oak Park at the Rossiter's place.
Went out with Charlie to do some errands and visit Forest Home Cemetery, the site of Emma Goldman's grave and the Haymarket Martyr's Monument.
While out we had interesting discussions with workers at a couple of stores he goes to regularly. At the first, a health foods store, we talked with Barbara. When Charlie mentioned my journey and me being a poet she told me that she's a singer/songwriter. She gave me a CD of hers and I'm leaving a book with Charlie to leave with her. This was all new information for Charlie.
At another grocery store, while talking with the cashier, it came out that she used to write and perform poetry. We talked about this for a bit and again, this was new news for Charlie.
At the cemetery we walked over to the Haymarket Monument. Another couple showed up while we were there. They were from Phoenix and have been traveling around the country for a few weeks. He's worked as a Union Organizer and they were visiting places important in labor's history.
Haymarket Martyr's Monument. The final words of August Spies before he was hanged.
Emma Goldman's burial site. A note left at Emma's grave.
I visited here two years ago when I was on my US 20 journey. A moving experience once again.
A very informative website by the Illinois Labor History Society about the Haymarket affair and the labor activists buried in the cemetery here:
We also stopped briefly at Unity Temple, designed and built by Frank Lloyd Wright. Charlie has been running the 3rd Saturday Coffeehouse there for the last eleven years. A great place to read and I was featured reader there a few years ago.
In 2010 we published a small chapbook by Charlie, "Meditations on Frank Lloyd Wright" that's been available for sale only at the Temple.
That evening we had the Parlor Poetry reading at their house. Thirteen of us sharing snacks, beverages and good talk. After my reading the talk continued and Henry and Jack brought out their guitars and played songs while Charlie occasionally chimed in singing.
Henry and Jack entertaining us.
A nice intimate evening with a good group of people.
This morning I had the strangest and most puzzling response to a booking inquiry I ever got.
I had been trying to reach Lydia, the person in charge of booking at a coffee shop in Cody, WY. Sounded like a cool place. Finally, this morning, after trying for two days, I was able to connect with her.
Here's the complete conversation:
Hello, Beta Coffeehouse, Lydia speaking."
"Hello Lydia, this is Michael Czarnecki. Glad to finally connect with you. I'm a poet who is on a Poems Across America Tour and was wondering if you would be interested in considering hosting my Wyoming reading?"
"That is totally against everything I believe. Thank you." And then she hung up.
Totally against everything she believes! Poems! Touring! America!
And this is from their Facebook page:
"For over 10 years The Beta has provided a much needed local hang out and great coffee. We support local artists, musicians and believe in the power of community. Thank you for the ongoing support and love."
The only thing I can think is maybe she heard me say Poems Against America Tour! Only slightly-possible answer I can come up with for that kind of response.
Received this email this morning after a friend connected this page to Lydia at Beta. Strangeness resolved. (Lydia gave me permission to post this.)
Hi, my name is Lydia Thomas, owner of The Beta Coffeehouse. I recently read the blog post you wrote talking about our conversation yesterday. I am afraid we had a hugely embarrassing misunderstanding yesterday and I apologize for my abruptness. When you called I was very busy during morning rush. Also, I heard from my staff that you had called multiple times before and left no message. It was loud in my shop when you called and when you mentioned coming in the coffeehouse to do poem readings I heard "palm readings". I thought it was some sort of scam or at best, a local palm reading business that recently opened who wanted to do a reading in my shop. That is something I would be opposed to. NOT poetry! :) I'm so sorry for responding the way I did. But, as I said, with the volume in the shop during our rush. If it was a solicitation for palm reading I didn't have time for that call. I hope that you understand. If you'd give me an opportunity to talk about scheduling a poetry reading in The Beta sometime, I'd love to! Thank you for all that you do. Blessings, Lydia
The day got better from there though, hanging with Charlie and Mary Ellen.
Mary Ellen and I went to the Oak Park Farmer's Market. Returned with flowers, sourdough bread, mushrooms, tomatoes and cheese. This is a great time of the year to be on the road, harvest time.
A pickin' circle at the farmer's market.
Afterwards, Charlie and I headed into Pilsen, an old Chicago neighborhood named by the Czechs in the 1890s and now a thriving Mexican-American community. Had a great lunch there and then visited the National Museum of Mexican Art
. the current exhibition is called Outside IN, the Mexican-American street art movement in Chicago. Some fascinating work in a medium that allowed for expression outside of the mainstream cultural institutions that were difficult to access for minorities.
A mural in Pilsen. There were many throughout the neighborhood.
We also toured the permanent exhibits and I found them as fascinating and informative now as I did a few years ago when first visiting the museum.
A photo of Zapatista supporters during the Mexican revolution in the early 20th century.
"Maria Sabina: I Am Woman of Light" by Javier Chavira, 2010.
All three of us were not very energetic today after the reading and socializing late into the night the evening before. So, a restful, get a little work done on the computer kind of day. The food we picked up at the market made for an excellent dinner as we ate in the living room, talking about Syria and other matters.
A peaceful, restful evening before I head off on the road tomorrow to visit Antler and Jeff, two poets in Milwaukee who I have never met in person before.
Left the Rossiter's after a great breakfast. Always excellent to visit them. Ok, Charlie, your turn on Wheeler Hill next.
Charlie, Mary Ellen and Jack.
I don't watch television except for Sunday's in fall. Buffalo Bills football games. They are part of my heritage. The season started this weekend and the Bills were playing their first game against arch-rival New England. So, I located on-line a Buffalo Bills bar in Chicago, Lincoln Station, and decided to go there for the game before heading up to Milwaukee.
Well, it was an experience. Maybe a dozen screens in the two rooms and standing room only. Buffalo Bills banners scattered throughout and many people wearing Buffalo Bills shirts or hats. (I have never done that.) Not my usual kind of setting, but it was probably the only way to be able to watch this game. I did talk to a few people, though talking was extremely difficult. One young guy, Dave from the Buffalo area (I think most everyone there probably was,) is working at a public school in Chicago as part of Americorp. One of the city schools that was taken over by an outside entity to help reverse its abysmal record. This is the fifth or sixth year and it hasn't helped much. Dave just started there a couple of weeks ago. I'm sure it will be an amazing experience.
I nursed two regionally brewed draft ales for the three and a half hours, standing the whole time. One waitress mentioned she saw me writing (I occasionally brought out my journal.) She writes poetry a bit. My waitress, Jill, when it was time to pay, after most of the crowd had left, told me one of the beers was on her. A very nice gesture. I returned from the car before driving off to leave a copy of Twenty Days on Route 20 for her.
One small segment of Lincoln Station.
Drove north from Chicago to Milwaukee, getting off the interstate near Milwaukee to drive through some suburbs and the city itself. One doesn't get much of a feel for a place driving the interstates.
The area reminded me of Buffalo, where I grew up, quite a bit. Old neighborhoods. A lot of old factory-ness, lake waterfront area, a fair amount of east European names.
Lake Michigan and Milwaukee skyline.
Stopped for a bite to eat at "Papa Luigi's" in South Milwaukee. A bowling alley, bar, restaurant, pool hall and banquet hall. On the way out I noticed a poster:
IF YOU DECIDED TO CARRY CONCEALED
then information about a class to be held at "Papa Luigi's" to help you learn how to do so.
A little later I arrived at Antler and Jeff's house. Both poets, FootHills had published a chapbook of Antler's and he is also one of the five poets in In the Spirit of T'ao Ch'ien that we released last year. What an amazing visit in their co-op apartment that is filled with books, posters, hand-written notes and quotes. We talked, and talked, and talked till late into the night about poets, poetry, life experiences, etc. Definitely kindred spirits.
In the morning Antler and I talked more before he had to head out to an appointment and I took off on the road to Baraboo. Again, connective conversation. I left feeling strongly that we have much in common and hoped that we could cross paths again in the future.
A pleasant ride over to Baraboo through rolling hills and farmland. The day was extremely hot and humid though. I hoped I had left the humidity behind when I started heading west but not yet. I think this was a record day for high temperature today.
I set up camp at Devil's Lake State Park and went for a wonderful swim before heading to the Baraboo Public Library for the evening's events. A kettle of about three dozen turkey vultures circled overhead the whole time I was there.
There was a potluck and Palm of the Hand Memoir Group meeting at 5:30. The group has been meeting monthly since I presented the method to them two years ago. 10 people attended this time (they have 20 or so who attend when they can) and what wonderful memoirs they shared! Marc led the group and I commented here and there and answered a few questions. It was so gratifying to see what has continued since I first introduced this kind of writing here.
24 people attended the reading and once again, a great response and quite a few book sales. One of the exciting things to come from the reading was an invitation to be able to stay overnight in Aldo Leopold's writing shack when I return again! What a special experience that would be! If you haven't read his Sand County Almanac yet, you should definitely put it on your reading list. It's a classic.
This is the third year in a row that I've been to Baraboo. They, and I, want to definitely make it four in a row next year!