Monday, March 27, 2006

Milwaukee Art Museum

  Posted by Picasa

Well well well – this happens to be my 50th post!!!

And it’s not on Chicago!!!
This one on my weekend trip to the Milwaukee Art Museum [MAM] and it’s simply mind-blowing!!!

Strangely enough the museum reminded me of a movie “The Thomas Crown Affair” – with glamorous portrayal of a *fictional* art heist. Hmmm … maybe because I found the place to be ultra glamorous – with futuristic neo-modern architecture – the types I‘ve seen only in movies! But of course *real* art crime is a serious problem. The Nazi regime plundered more than three million works of art. One explanation, which I find to be particularly interesting; is that Hitler was rejected twice by the “Vienna Academy of Fine Arts”; so to cover up his humiliation; he assumed the role of the ultimate art critic – amassing the most valued paintings from all around! Then the most recent art-theft that sent screams all over was, of course that of “The Scream” by Edvard Munch ... So art-museum, art-galleries, art-auctions, art-theft, art-forgery ... and all that artsy-fartsy nonsense [!!!???!!!] ... all make for serious business!!!
[pix 1 - main lobby of the museum]

"Art washes from the soul the dust of every day life." - Pablo Picasso

People collect all sorts of things: shells, rocks, ceramic, pottery, jewelry, textiles, paintings, sculpture, furniture ... to autographs, comic books, collectible cards, postcards, stamps and even ticket-stubs!
WHY??? I don’t know their motives …
Personally I collect snaps and holiday souvenirs - key-chains & coffee-mugs - as memorabilia.

  Posted by Picasa

But whatever the inducement; it’s really commendable, that some philanthropists give their private collections to museums where they are professionally cared for and made accessible to everyone. Private collections often form the basis of most museums. I think we are lucky that some people take interest in conserving, preserving and displaying arts and artifacts … so that ordinary people like me; get a glimpse of the lives, cultures, times … different from ours – which has always fascinated me! Valuable antiques have been collected since the times of early civilizations – by the Egyptian, Greeks, Romans and others. In fact the word –“museum” is derived from the Greek work meaning "Seat of the Muses”- referring to a place of contemplation! Now the term means “any building housing cultural material to which the public has access."
[pix 2 - Egyptian Mummy Coffin of Pediusir, 350 BC

"Without art, the crudeness of reality would make the world unbearable.”- George Bernard Shaw

Though seeing the Louvre is my dream .....
but I’ve seen a few very interesting museums:
- “The Jewel House” in the Tower of London; which displays British crown jewels including the Cullinan diamond and the Kohinoor!
- The Ford Museum - Detroit
- Chicago Art Museum
- The latest being the Milwaukee Art Museum [MAM]

“It is through Art and through Art only that we can realize our perfection; through Art and Art only that we can shield ourselves from the sordid perils of actual existence” - Oscar Wilde

  Posted by Picasa

MAM has been completed is phases:
- The original was designed by Eero Saarinen
- But what really shot this museum to international fame is – the 125,000-square-foot building expansion – completed in 2001 - designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. [His first work in United States].

One of the main attractions is the wing-like moving structure "Burke Brise Soleil" - which:
- During daytime - opens up for a wingspan of 217 feet and
- During the night or in inclement weather - folds over the tall …

"The art of a people is the true mirror to their minds."
- Jawaharlal Nehru


More pictures in My photo Journal ...
And a bonus was witnessing this ...

  Posted by Picasa

  Posted by Picasa

Thursday, March 23, 2006

A Small - Swampy - Underpopulated - Tribal - Village ... Transformed

  Posted by Picasa

Any friend or relative comes to Chicago -
a trip to the Sears Tower is a must!
But before one can step into its observatory the “Skydeck”;
on the 103rd Floor [of the 110 floors tower]; there is a small diversion – a slide show with commentary – mostly about the growth of the city. One cannot escape but notice the importance of canals & railroads in the development of this city ...

.

Once upon a time – NOT very long back – about 150 - 200 years ago ...
there was a small village on the boggy-marshy-swampy banks of the southwest shore of Lake Michigan ... named CHE- CAU-GOU [name derived from the odor of wild onions] ... where just a few [less than 300 till 1830's] Native Americans [mostly of Potawatomi tribe] resided ... and traded in furs!!!

So how did this Small - Swampy - Underpopulated - Tribal Village ...
grow into one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world - in less than 200 years !!!???!!!!

This calls for a dig into the past .....
Major factors contributing to its meteoric rise are the same basic three I's ...
- Infrastructure [ Development of canals & railroads ]
- Industries [ especially meat-packing & steel industries ]
- Finance [opening of Chicago Board of Trade - CBOT]

  Posted by Picasa

CANALS:
Prior to the advent of railroads, the major mode of transportation was steamboats. As such; St. Louis – the “River city” – at the confluence of 3 rivers - Mississippi, Illinois & Missouri – was the most important trading centre in the Midwest. Trade route was mostly North-South – which implies that the surplus farm products from Midwest were gathered together at St. Louis and were shipped south through the Mississippi River to New Orleans, from there were taken by sea to the east or west coast.

One of the most important developments that changed the face of Chicago was construction of New York's Erie Canal [in 1825]. By about 1835, a large part of the products could now be transported east through the Great Lakes to the Erie Canal to the New York City. This diminished the trend of North-South transportation and established Chicago as an important center for West - East trading.

Then the “Illinois & Michigan Canal” [completed in 1848]; connected Chicago to the Mississippi River & the Great Lakes. The creation of this canal system further reoriented this trade to an east-west axis.

This in turn drew many land speculators and entrepreneurs to the area. This key water based transportation link in turn influenced the massive Railroad construction from Chicago to other parts of the country which just continued Chicago's explosive growth.

  Posted by Picasa

RAILROADS:
The development of railroads began in Chicago 1848 ....
By 1850 – there was only one railroad passing through the city; “The Galena & Chicago Union Railroad”. By 1852, there were 5 and by 1856 – there were 10 railroads, totaling 300 miles of track. The opening of Union Station in 1881 further consolidated Chicago’s position as the hub of the Midwest!

The Gold Rush - When gold was found in California in 1848 – it proved to be the first great impetus for migration to the Far West regions of America and proved to be a boon to Chicago as it now emerged as an important transit & trading center.

  Posted by Picasa

MEAT- PACKING INDUSTRY:
It’s perhaps the most-important industry in the development of Chicago.
# the establishment of “Union Stock Yards” in 1865 made Chicago a livestock center.
# the development of “refrigerated railroad cars”- made long distance transport possible without much spoilage. The utilization of ice in meat packing plants increased the meat-production. Before this time, the disassembly plants [meat production and distribution facilities], had to shut down in the hot summer months. Increased operating months created hundreds of thousands of new man-hours in which people could work. This increased the demand for “unskilled labor” – contributing to the growth of immigrants and working class in the city ….
# By 1862 Chicago had displaced Cincinnati, Ohio as "Porkopolis".
# The Civil War [1861-65] increased the demand for food products and Chicago's vast transportation system ensured that goods could be delivered to soldiers quickly all over the northern United States …

STEEL INDUSTRY:
During the second half of the nineteenth century, Chicago became one of the world's leading centers of steel production. It helped in the development of railroads, ships, skyscrapers and bridges and also employed immigrant workers in large numbers.

THE CHICAGO BOARD of TRADE:
In 1848 Chicago built its first grain elevator, and the Chicago Board of Trade [CBOT] was established. In fact Modern day futures and commodity trading markets were pioneered in Chicago at CBOT. Some even argue that the grain elevators built were Chicago's first skyscrapers. The trade in livestock, lumber, and grains laid down the financial basis for Chicago's growth.

Though the analysis is wanting in many aspects,
but I think that it still highlights some of the most important developments ....
that transformed Chicago from a Small - Swampy - Underpopulated - Tribal Village ...
into one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world !!!


  Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Chicago blogger

  Posted by Picasa

Well no stocktaking of the situation is required to conclude that I write mostly on my city - Chicago! However it took me quite some time yesterday night, to organize the topics with the corresponding links. But then, I had put my mind to it ... so this tedious and boring self-assigned project is finally accomplished ... However my covering the city will continue ...

[1] The Melting Pot ...

[2] Combining Chic & Ego ...

[3] The Windy City ...

[4] City of Rectangular Boxes - I ...
City of Rectangular Boxes - II ...

[5] Chicago Sculptures … ...

  Posted by Picasa

[6] From Stone Walls to Glass-&-Steel Frames …

[7] Prairie School of Architecture ...

[8] Art Institute of Chicago...
Impressionisms ...
Post - Impressionisms ...
some “… ISMS” ... in post Post-Impressionisms phase ...

[9] Chicago River flows backwards ...

CONTEMPORARY ISSUES :
[1] St. Patrick’s Day Parade ...

[2] A Sad Farewell - Berghoff Resturant...

[3] Street Musicians..

  Posted by Picasa

[4] Scents & Sensibilities ...

BUILDINGS of INTEREST:
The tallest three buildings of Chicago ...
[1] Sears Tower …
[2] Aon Center ... [Left pix.]
[3] Hancock Center ...

Others:
[4] Millennium Park...

[5] Chicago Cultural Center...

[6] Rookery...

City Updates ...

Few city updates:

- May 2005: Chicago banned use of cell phones for drivers ...

- Jan. 2006: Chicago banned smoking in all public places , except taverns and restaurants with bars at least until mid-2008, and many suburbs have done the same ...

- Feb. 2006: Chicago's City Council banned street performers from the Magnificent Mile. Street performers such as bucket drummers, saxophonists, bagpipers and singers have been ordered to pipe down, making Chicago the latest city to try to reduce urban noise. The regulations also lower acceptable decibel levels everywhere else in the city and require entertainers exceeding 55 decibels — the level of loud talking — to pack up by 8 p.m. on weeknights. Permit fees will also increase from $50 to $75.

- Feb. 2006: Chicago's CTA and Pace (suburban) buses will have wider seats starting next year.... as Chicago becomes America's fattest city. The seat width is going up from 17.5" across to 18" across. Despite the small increase, this will make Chicago's bus seats the biggest in the nation.

* CTA = Chicago Transit Authority ...

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Hello Spring ....

  Posted by Picasa

Though officially spring begins on the 21st of March;
but the spring-like "feel" is all aroud. Very soon dull-lifeless-dormant nature will burst with vitality-& colors!I love gardening and made some attempts to organize my small little scribbles on plants. Its here Green Thumb ...
I would love to share these photos ...
and though I definitely intend to add more; but this Blog won’t be updated regularly. The basic idea was to organize my notes & pictures ... and with spring around; this is the best time for it ....
Cheers!


  Posted by Picasa


ADDENDUM
March 19, 2006 ....

Well the same day that I posted “Hello Spring” it snowed.
North winds have descended and are expected to stay for a week …
There are predictions of snow this Tuesday – "snow with blustery winds"
But March is characteristically a stormy month in Chicago - as the atmosphere begins its annual transition from winter to summer; Arctic and tropical air masses - from North & South - wage constant battles for supremacy and strong low pressure systems develop, producing blizzards & thunderstorms.
[ Left - pix. of snow on March 16, 2006]

However these spring-storms have not dampened the upbeat mood …
Spring is here – ALMOST …

- Time to bid goodbye to blacks-n-grays
- Time to pack-away jackets-boots-mufflers-gloves
- Time to bring out colorful tank-tops, Capri’s, shorts & flip-flops
- Time for gardening
- Time for barbeques and picnics …

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

A generation that defines America

You know you’re a cute little heartbreaker - Foxy
You know you’re a sweet little lovemaker - Foxy
I wanna take you home, I won’t do you no harm, no
You’ve got to be all mine, all mine ... Ooh, foxy lady


The image of Jimi Hendrix performing at Woodstock 1969; evokes strange images in my mind - curly afrohair with bandana - white jacket with fringes - guitar slung over shoulders - immersed in psychedelic trance!!! A Rock-N-Roll virtuoso with a mixed African, European, Cherokee Indian & Mexican descent … [yeah America is a land of racial hodgepodge] strumming in front of a huge gung-ho crowd which a unique fashion statement ...
Torn/patched jeans - Tie-n-die-shirts - Wide leather belts - Long hair [mostly unkept] – Beards-n-moustaches [hardly trimmed] - Bell-bottoms - Mini/Micromini skirts – Halter tops – Chain belts – Platform heels – Leather boots ...
That was the 60's ...
What happens to this generation as they grow old????

  Posted by Picasa

A generation that has many catchphrases associated to them:
War-babies - Me-generation - Now-generation - Love-generation - hippie-culture - counterculture - experimentation - free-love – communal living ...

A generation that embraced songs like ...
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
I hope I die before I get old (talkin’ ’bout my generation)
This is my generation, This is my generation
[ The Who]

A generation that chanted: “Don’t trust anyone over 30”...
What happens to this generation as they grow old????

Demographers term this generation as the Baby-Boomer generation.
Born between Jan 1st, 1946 – Dec 31st, 1964 ...
It’s a massive team of 78 million Americans ... A demographic bulge!!!
America's present population is expected to be about 300 million ...
Baby-boomers form the largest generation ever to be born in America. Never had so many babies been born in such a small time-span ... a reflection of relative peace and prosperity after prolonged bad years of Depression & War ...

Late 40’s – maternity wards were overcrowded with expectant mothers
1950’s – school enrollment swelled - they played with hula-hoops
1960’s - colleges were overfilled - they formed the most educated [yet] lot
1970’s - job-market expanded – they formed double-income families
1980’s – housing sector bulged - had late kids
1990’s – divorce court boomed
2000's - they prepare to retire ...
They have molded and shaped American society at every phase – simply by moving through it en masse . Demographers frequently describe their effect comparing it to a python swallowing a pig. In the same way that it causes a huge lump, as it moves down the body of snake ... so does this generation affects every aspect of American culture as it grows and grays ...
What happens to this generation as they grow old????

  Posted by Picasa

Their legacy has greater impact on society than any other generation.
- Civil-rights / racial integration
- Equal rights for women / women’s lib movement / feminism
- Vietnam war protests / slogans like “Make Love Not War”
- First generation to grow on television
- Environmentalists
- Soccer-moms
- Mini-vans / SUVs
- Fast-food generation to grow on McDonalds, Burger King, KFC …
- They rule Hollywood ... Steven Spielberg is the poster-boy of this generation [born in 1946], Peter Jackson [LOTR], Ang lee [ Brokeback Mountain], Quentin Tarantino [ born- 1963]
- Grew on Rock-N-Roll of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Wonder, Aretha Franklin … songs that are still loved by the masses
- Well President George W. Bush, Ex-President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice all belong to the baby-boomer generation .....
Baby-boomer culture *IS* the American culture ...

  Posted by Picasa

Compared to earlier generations, they grew in abundance, lived in indulgence and were pampered with technological breakthroughs. Baby-boomers have reached geezer-hood now. They frequent drug-stores more than hardware stores now. However they still impact our economy. In a democratic society where every vote counts; politicians simply cant ignore their huge-lot. They are outspoken, concerned and they matter!!!
No wonder people discuss:
- Social security
- Medicare benefits
As the baby-boomer generation reach retirement – pushing over-55 years to 25% of the population.

What happens to this generation as they grow old and retire ...
Is yet to be seen …

But I have long been FASCINATED by this generation …
And today I just felt like writing my impressions on them ...


AND HAPPY HOLI EVERYONE
PLAY WITH COLORS ... ENJOY !!!!

Sunday, March 12, 2006

The Melting Pot ....

  Posted by Picasa

How do I feel ...
about growing in a country with one of the oldest civilizations in the world ... and ... now to live in a somewhat *infant* nation ????
Indian civilization -> about 4000 years old
America -> discovered only in 1493 ...

A more interesting question, I’ve been asked is ...
How do I feel ... about growing in a land of relatively homogeneous population [where even inter-state migration is restricted] ... And then to be living in a land of immigrants????

Yeah, “Land of Immigrants” this is!!!
Chicago can be called a social laboratory wherein an observer can make an elaborate study on the “Melting Pot” theory of racial & cultural diversity and integration ...
.

Its ethnic composition speaks volumes:
One-third -> Europeans
One-third –> African-Americans
One-fifth –> Latinos
One-tenth –> Asian
Rest of the population is made up of rest of the world ...

So what’s the percentage of *Native American* population???
Just 0.15% of Chicago population … consists of Native American tribes ... Potawatomi, Shawnee, Delaware, Ottawa, Chippewa and Iroquois …

  Posted by Picasa

What’s really intriguing is that the history of Chicago is studied from the time when the first *non-native* settler made Chicago his home. Now he was a Haitian with a French name - Jean Baptiste Point du Sable - who married a native Potawatomi tribe girl and made his home in Chicago in 1774! When Chicago was incorporated into a town, in 1833; its population was just 350!!! But within four years, by 1837 the population had reached 4000 and the “City of Chicago” was incorporated.
Now there are about 3 million people living in the city proper and about 10 million people living in the greater Chicago area. The actual city residents make up about a fifth of Illinois total population.

The first wave of immigrants ...
came around 1840’s; when Europeans started arriving in the city: from Ireland, England, Scotland, France, Italy, Austria, Poland, ..... Soon there were immigrants from almost all the European countries ... Quite interestingly they made attempts to dismantle their European identity by adopting the commonly spoken language here and even changing their names to sound more American.
Chicago has huge proportion of Polish, Swede, German and Irish population.
However, a point to note is that even the oldest family in Chicago can’t trace their roots in the city to more than 200 years!!!

  Posted by Picasa


The Great Black Migration ...
took place between 1915-1960; when many African-Americans from Southern states [of Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, Arkansas...] poured into Chicago trying to escape segregation and seeking better economic life. This trend transformed Chicago in every possible way – politically, economically, socially and culturally. Europeans no longer had a dominant political majority as Blacks became a force to reckon with, by their sheer numbers! However those days, Blacks found only menial jobs ... women got into domestic services and men performed unskilled labor. Segregation here was as bad as in Southern states and almost all the new migrants settled together in the South side of Chicago making it a “Black Belt” characterized by overcrowded apartments and abject living conditions. But their influence on cultural, musical & religious fields changed Chicago forever!
.
.

  Posted by Picasa

The growth of Asian community ...
in Chicago can be traced not far back … to the 1965 immigration law; that abolished racial quotas and called for skilled professionals to fill a gap in America's labor market. Thousands of doctors, engineers, and scientists immigrated with their families. Thanks to their Western education with fluency in English and professional training, they attained economic prosperity in record time! Devon Street is the heart of Indian community and is rightly termed “Indiantown”.

Interestingly Indians *look* very similar to the Latinos; who have a dominant presence here [in terms of population density] . But there’s one major difference ... Latinos speak Spanish and hardly speak English.
So I do get occasional greetings of HOLA or Grasias ...

But now coming back to the original question ...
How do I feel about growing up in India and now living here ...
It’s a beautiful experience !!!

*** My inspiration to write on The Melting Pot Theory came after witnessing the lively parade yesterday to mark the occasion “St. Patrick’s Day” [on the 17th of March] !!! More photos in the Photo Journal ....
Well there are other theories :
- The Salad Bowl Theory / tossed salad bowl theory
- The Crash Theory!!!


  Posted by Picasa

Monday, March 06, 2006

Gimme a BREAK ...

BE WARNED: This is a very KIDDISH post ...
It may appear to have been written by an 8-year old ...
but honestly I’ve penned it … and …
I’m posting it - for 12 hours only ... hmmm maybe .....


The “Oscar“ fever and the name of two movies “Brokeback Mountain” and “Crash” ...
brings to my mind a word “BREAK" !!!
Break – not a pleasant word at all!!!
Nobody likes their precious objects to be broken into pieces ….
But I think that “in essence” the word “break” is very similar like the word “salt”.

  Posted by Picasa

Salt by itself has a very odious taste, but add it to food-items and it works like a seasoning, enhancing its flavor!!! Similarly the word “break” though inherently reeks of negative connotations; but use it as a “suffix” or a “prefix” … and it gives very positive results ....
Who doesnt like a coffee break??? OR ...
• Spring-break / Summer-break
• Lunch-break / Day-break
• Break-fast – the most important meal of the day!

  Posted by Picasa [Lunch-Break]

As the lyrics go … breaking up is hard to do ...
• The Break-Up – a smart way to begin afresh !
• Breaking the ice / breaking the silence
• Breaking the stereotype
• Breaking the chain – [forward mails !!!!]
• Just one break – sometimes that’s all one needs …
• Breakdance
• Speed-break
• Breakwater – barrier that protects a harbor or shore from full impact of waves

  Posted by Picasa [Kids on a spring-break]

“BREAK” – A milestone / something important ...
• Breaking all records
• Break-even - and let the profit begin …
• Breaking the sound barrier
• Breaking news
• Breaking into sweat – well hard work is always rewarding …

“BREAK” – Well, not always positive ...
• BROKE
• Prison – break
• Breaking the law, house break-in
• Breakout of disease
• Breaking Point - The point at which physical, mental, or emotional strength gives way under stress ...

  Posted by Picasa
[A Quiet Break - I love this pix.]

One of my all time fav. songs by Queen ....
I want to break free
I want to break free
I want to break free from your lies
You’re so self satisfied I don’t need you
I’ve got to break free
God knows God knows I want to break free


Well I actually made-up that list .....
I laughed-out-loud after writing that ...
Well ... I've think tomorrow whether it stays or gets deleted ...
As of now ... Good Night!