Wednesday, April 13, 2005
I've always love visiting this city (European visitors to the U.S. frequently call New York an International City, Boston and San Francisco the most European of America's cities, and Chicago THE American city for its energy and populism). The opera is a kick for me as it always is but I'm getting used to a local custom I have encountered nowhere else. Box dinners from a local restaurant are hawked in the lobby as people enter and are ready for pick-up during the first intermission. This is followed by hundreds and hundreds of people sitting and reclining on all the opera house's stairways and on the floors eating grilled chicken, side dishes, etc. I can't imagine the danger should there be an emergency, but it's a beloved part of the scene here and when I inquired about the custom I was met with "Welcome to the mid-west!"
I also visited a fascinating, somewhat macabre exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry called "Body Worlds." Actual human bodies that have been donated by prople for medical research are injected in various ways with polymers and then the un-plasticized parts are desolved in chemicals. The results allow you to examine how the body works in ways medical illustrations cannot begin to present. There is a woman who died in the eighth month of pregnancy whose baby could not be saves who is opened to reveal the fetus. There is a young woman whose entire artery, vein and capillary system--and only that--is shown standing before you in deep chinese red plastic. It is beautiful and awe-inspiring all at once--and not for the faint of heart. You see people in all their diseases and problems--the artificial knees, the blackened lungs of smokers, the injuries and wear and tear of life.