Screed is Good

WestCoast 094Now having landed in the Windy City, it seems that I have traded the steppes of America for the same grids and plans and sundry buildings of the Old Empire, the Central City of Amerika with its many glass houses, and those older buildings build in a time when limestone and old growth forest were cheap as was the Polish immigrants who toiled in order to build this city. Chicago has been built and torn down as many times as any American city, but today it stand larger than ever, a mirror to New York City save that when the bell rings, those hordes of workers flee the city in one direction. The streets are large, wide and open for the cars, the sidewalks for the most part devoid of trees, and the buildings all variations on the square tower and glass, or some grand edifice of the past yet to be turned into a parking lot. Chicago, the Moscow of the Midwest, the Red Star on the map from whence all lines of transportation branch from, onward to Atlanta, to New Orleans, to Oakland, to Sacramento, and of course to Portland and Seattle.
I enter this city a ghost, a spent and tired soul having crossed datelines back and forth, continental divides, habitats of all wondrous creatures, and across the steppes of America, the most Model T wrecks I have ever seen being in North Dakota. This morning I was in winter. This evening I am in late spring, perhaps a taste of summer since the temperature is 80 F and all those clothes I had piled on for other station stops far too soon made me stinky and hot as I humped my bag to the hostel. A grand city, a city that is empty, a city that was our future city, before we moved further west and built others. It is the murder city, the gangster city, the place of so many legends, and at the moment a city represented in the Stanley Cup (to readers from 40 states, this is the culmination of hockey, the Canadian ice sport played with sticks and knocked out teeth). I wandered tired and strange, set upon by so many worries of the world since I must return to bills, bar-codes, and b-unemployment (ran out of alliterations, swear I’ll do better next time). I enjoyed free food at a happy hour, the noise and yelling of an old man bar, and then a final call where a random guy bought me a drink because I said he could order first. Chicago is that central city, that almost held the title of American city, but lost it somewhere, or didn’t want it, and it seems that today, no one wants that title, or New York City has that title, and few others want to further challenge that or we have given up on finding a Moscow of America, because D.C. is not it, never has, and never will, at least in the lifetimes of myself, and you, dear reader.
I am about to finish a final leg of the journey, and then must go in to reflection for a time. To ponder, to consider, to think out the things I have seen, to make meaning for myself, maybe even find something of value to others. There may be then no pithy comments, no Deep Thoughts, no Revelations after all. So many others of the chattering classes of nattering nebobs in the Twittersphere have covered over every inch of ground that there is nothing, perhaps, left to say. No profound statements, since the map has not contained the words “unknown” for a century, and will never again in the age where I can use the google to see my hostel from space, ratings from other clients, and see the very street it is on using the device my generation still calls a “phone.”
All about this nation I have texted, used the book of face, sent electronic mail… ahem… e-mail… oh, email about this nation and to friends, family, and potential employers, I have listened to my local NPR, read the Times, logged in and read the blogs I follow and of course, blogged, not in real-time, but close enough considering the screaming wilderness out the train window that over a century ago people died, ate one another, fought every inch, and I, sitting on my big fat ass, passed with all the effort of logging on to Amtrak.com, selecting this and that from the drop downs, and claiming points when I can. The oil rigs along the way pound deep into the earth, and they do so for me. Nature is raped on my behalf, and I suffer from some condition because I rage against the rapist, and then microwave up a “beef” and “potato” something I bought for $2.49 in New Orleans and have used as a MRE for the entirety of my trip in order to cut expenses. I ate perhaps eight of these things. Had I eaten on the rail, I would have perhaps spent $49 or more… Good thing there was a Family Dollar when I needed one.
And so, perhaps to keep this short in order to recover from a long leg of my journey, perhaps because the time zone I am in is kicking in and my body is still in the last one, I must close these thoughts, and sadly I have not found a central theme, a closing statement, a way to bring everything together like David Sedaris or other well-oiled story-tellers. I will think then, dream on it, and consider what I have seen, what others who take the journey may see, since travel is not to those who place pen to ink, or hands to keyboard, and no longer belongs to a select few, but currently, for the moment, in the age before it all breaks down, we can still take a few moments and get to know our land, or those lands within our reach either for pure pleasure, or to ask those old questions, how does everything fit together, and where, if anywhere, do I fit in…
USAUSAUSA 034
Editor’s Note: I am still in Central Time, so this post meets my self-imposed deadline of Thirty Rants in Thirty Days (r).

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