Hotel 71 in Chicago has three TV screens at the front desk, and several more in the bar. These screens play repeat-loop performance art of two guys in various positions in various boxes. (Now I’m standing in a box! Now I’m upside down in a box! Now the box is filling with water!) It was like a series of David Blaine tricks, without any of the discomfort or peril, or like sad little mimes who haven’t yet graduated to imaginary boxes.
Other amusing aspects of the hotel include the purple ribbon that says “NOURISH” hanging from the door of the mini bar, and the rockin’ electronic music piped into the elevators–in case guests feel like having a tiny little rave after they’ve nourished themselves with six or seven miniature bottles of booze.
In Quincy, we drove around the old neighborhoods playing How Much is that Mansion in the Midwest? This is a fun game where you guess how much the mansion would cost in San Francisco, California (about $6 million), then you guess how much it costs in Quincy, Illinois (about $300,00?), then you get the flyer out of the little box to find out how much it actually costs ($180,000!?!), then you weep silently and go for lunch at the nearest Applebees.
All in all, it was a good trip.
The Morning News posted some of my etiquette advice yesterday. I’d have told you sooner, but I was on a plane to Chicago. Go read “Don’t Be Rude: When Guests Outstay Their Welcome.” And send me a question if you have one.
I’m in Chicago now, and off to Quincy on Friday. If you see me, say hi.
This year, we did Bay to Breakers as the Marching Schneiders a la “One Day at a Time“. We drew on mustaches, wore men’s undershirts, and carried plungers, and yet still the women drew attention. My favorite unsavory remark was from the guy who wanted a blow job:
Bottomfeeder’s friend: Where’s the booze at?
BF: Where’s the head at?
BF: Where’s my head at?
Me: Excuse me, did you just ask for some of our booze, then request oral sex?
BF: I’m just sayin’, I could use a little head.
Me: You don’t get laid a lot, do you.
BF: I’m just sayin’.
Me: Yeah, I heard you. And I’m just sayin’ that you need to work on your opener if you’d like to have sex one day.
Bryan: What’d he say?
Me: He wants a blowjob.
Bryan (to BF): Did you just ask my wife for a blowjob?
BF: Yeah. Huh.
(Whereupon, Bryan poured a glass of sangria on the gentleman’s crotch.)
Now, you might think this is where the fisticuffs come in. Fortunately, the gentleman in question was so inebriated that it took him awhile to realize that his crotch was dripping with wine. He walked on ahead of us, and about five minutes later, he realized there was a problem. He grabbed at himself, attempting to locate the source of the liquid, he held his hands up to his face to more properly ascertain the nature of the liquid, he questioned his friends (who shrugged), then he walked bowlegged for a block or so. Spectacular.
Leah Peah just posted a brief interview with me.
Isabel Allende and 826 Valencia just produced a new student quarterly called Waiting to Be Heard. I helped proofread, and one student’s words struck me as particularly poignant. Ben Schuttish writes:
“President George W. Bush learned [war] from his father when his father was president, and now he is taking what he learned and applying it to the war in Iraq… Instead of immediately declaring war, President Bush should have used his brain to think of some other options first. He couldn’t help it though, because war was what he had been taught by his father. This is wrong.”
Best parts of A Home at the End of the World by Michael Cunningham:
“I was my father’s daughter. i wanted to be loved by someone like my tough judicious mother and I wanted to run screaming through the headlights with a bottle in my hand. That was the family curse. We tended to nurse flocks of undisciplined wishes that collided and canceled each other out. The curse implied that if we didn’t learn to train our desires in one direction or another, we were likely to end up with nothing.”
“He had big square hands and face blank and earnest as a shovel.”
“I tried to make myself stop caring about what I looked like. As she started in the with scissors, I reminded myself that our lives are made of changes we can’t control. Letting little things happen is good practice.”
“Woodstock is what towns were supposed to become before the old future got sidetracked and a new one took its place… I appreciate the kindness of its quiet streets and the people’s cheerful determination to live in ways that are mainly beside the point.”