A friend from an advanced planet visited my home and my city last weekend. His name is Peter Pero, and the advanced planet is Chicago, which is my way of saying “it’s another world.” I know because I visited the city, his home and his charming wife Byung earlier this year when I was invited to share the story of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay, his poetry, my poetry and s0me of my songs at Chicago’s College of Complexes, a club for citizens who like to think and learn. It was a fab weekend, I wish to bejeebers I could visit and perform there again, and if anybody’s interested, the full story of my visit can be found in my Honey & Quinine posts around March of this year. Peter wanted to learn more about the Lindsay fanatic, my city and my aviation museum.
Friday night we had dinner at Casa Real on North Grand, not far from Abraham Lincoln Capital Airport. The place was packed, and noisier than some jet engines I have stood next to. The food and service were excellent. After, we drove to a Shop’N'Save across the street and bought a few six packs of Michelob Premium Amber Ale. There was most of a gallon of Carlo Rossi Burgundy already at home in case that proved insufficient.
Peter was impressed with my collection of vinyl records. They seemed as rare as arrowheads to him. He was delighted to find my Phil Ochs album “All the News that’s Fit to Sing” in the rack. Phil was a passionate folksong writer/performer whom Peter remembered when Ochs sang at the Art Institute of Chicago some weeks before he committed suicide. Peter had not heard Ochs’ song “The Thresher” which I’ve been playing and singing since about 1968, and it was as much an education for him as his memories of the man were for me. I introduced him to one of my fave musician songwriters who lightened the sky like a Roman Candle and sadly faded to oblivion: pianist Biff Rose. I saw Rose twice on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, bought all three of his albums and mourned is sorry fade to ignominy. We listed to all three albums, plus some Basie, The Dillards, a Mike Nichols and Elaine May comedy album; also part of an album by Southern regional comedian Dave Gardner (who played Springfield’s Lake Club in the 60s; my father met him when he visited Roberts Bros. downtown to buy some clothes). The evening was a hoot, and it was a late night for the both of us: lights out about 2:30.
I respect the wishes of my house guests in the main — the worst exception being “Lenore” of the spring of 2009. I could write a book consisting mostly of my regrets about that wonderful encounter that went south faster than the Titanic, but with no permanent fatalities beyond the death of a dream. I’ll spare you the details – and Peter recommended commencing the rest of the morning at 9:00 am. I was happy to oblige, but my morning commenced in my home office at 7, which is late for me.
A visit to the restored Lincoln-Herndon Law offices downtown was item #1 on the day’s itinerary. Unfortunately, the place was short-staffed, and the one person there was in he middle of a scheduled group tour. We heard him advising the gentleman at Tinsley Dry Goods souvenir shop, accessible through an open door at the back of the visitor orientation area on the Law Offices’ ground floor. Tinsley is a terrific gift shop for anyone seekiln’ Lincoln. We looked around; nothing lightened our wallets.
We went next door to Prairie Art Alliance’s Gallery II, delighted it was OPEN a little after 9:30 and equally delighted to encounter my friend, manager Jennifer Snopko at the welcoming desk.
Jennifer Snopko, proof positing that not all works of art hang on walls
I had not been there since playing and singing at their First Friday gallery reception, and it was great to see so much new art.
Peter Pero, visitor from an advanced planet at Prairie Art Alliance Gallery II.
watching tourists from other planets outside Gallery II
view from the front desk at Gallery II
With the permission of their chaperones, the young ladies outside Gallery II posed for Obewan Cameraguy.
The group tour was still underway upstairs at the LHL Offices, so we boogied across the street and half a block south to
The Golden Frog Cafe, which, sadly ceased operations seven days after our Saturday visit, offered some terrific souvenirs, among them this.
The Golden Frog where the creative thinkers group Writers Bloc was certain to be in session. Since I must work most Saturdays, this was my first opportunity to visit the new meeting venue.. The writers are all long-time friends of mine, and it was great fun to introduce my friend from an advanced planet.
We enjoyed a light breakfast and coffee, all prime chow and caught up with the peoples’ lives. Peter wisely decided to try a third time to visit the Lincoln-Herndon under-staffed Law Offices while we natives jabbered away in the usual way, and he returned later appearing satisfied with his good fortune visiting the upstairs main event over there. He was just in time to savor, following his return, the sounds of Bossa Azul, a local “bossa and jazz” trio I am happy to call friends.
Bossa Azul at play (and song) October 20 at The Golden Frog Cafe.
briDEEP, briDEEP, briDEEP
We stayed for a set of their scintillating strains before taking off to the airport.
Peter visits the Research Room at AeroKnow Museum
AeroKnow Museum is best seen in daylight. Yes, there are lights there, but daylight is the best time to see the six rooms upstairs. We were also less rushed than then previous evening when he arrived, parked his car for the entire visit in the free parking lot, and I became host and tour guide in my pickup truck. He seemed to appreciate the collection. Too bad he doesn’t live closer to Springfield. A friend who might want to help is a terrible thing to waste.
considering a model of a Japanese torpedo bomber in the Kits Room
It was at that point that the battery in my Sony Cyber-shot ran out of juice. To give it time to recharge, we departed for lunch at the restaurant Galery II’s jovial Jennifer had recommended for Peter’s first HORSESHOE SANDWICH (choice of meat on open-faced toast — white, whole wheat or rye — and smothered with french fries and an incredibly well-prepared cheese sauce), a Springfield landmark like Lincoln and Lindsay. The Brickhouse is located on west side of 5th Street between Adams and Monroe. Jennifer was absolutely RIGHT about their horseshoe sandwich. There were many customers, but the ambiance was commendably quiet, absolutely terfiic! I was blown away by the sprinkling of chive on the top and the mildly “warm” seasoning of the sauce. I am not a hot sauce fan, but I totally enjoyed the treatment of the sandwich. It was too “hot” for the visitor from an advanced planet. When he asked for a simple lettuce salad, our server brought an AMAZING production of greens and a plethora of additional items (carrots, olives . . . all sorts of salad “fixin’s”) Peter was knocked over by its appearance, and so was I. He didn’t even want dressing on it; just wanted it to tame the seasoning of the cheese sauce. He gave half of it to me, which went home in a “doggie bag,” and I enjoyed it with dressing, with dinner Sunday night. I can’t wait to go back to The Brick House for another horseshoe.
We returned to the airport to retrieve my camera with battery charged, and then it was back to town to tour the Illinois State Museum.
outside the entrance, a happy surprise
I don’t know WHAT this is, but it was great to see the words of Springfield poet Vachel Lindsay and the artistic creation of my friend Felecia Olin!
information about the creation at the base
It was as interesting as always, and Peter was impressed.
posing with a creature that was native to these parts, even before Abe
Then we drove out to Washington Park to hike off some of the horseshoes we were digesting.The walk was excellent. Lots to see and photograph.
Foreground: Peter Pero. Background: Washington Park’s Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon during the annual PumpkinFest.
view of the carillon in late afternoon
Peter and inspiring sculpture
My friend Felecia Olin was having a one-woman gallery showing at The Pharmacy (visual artists organization) Warehouse,, walking distance from my home. We walked over there and spent about an hour. Because my Cyber-shot was out of battery again, I took my Canon EOS 20D SLR with a telephoto lens. I knew I would photograph everything at atleast 70mm and up to 300mm, it was my only choice, and I thought it would be great fun to play with it. I was right.
Around the gallery, people come and go, talking of Feliciangelo. (Sorry TSE)
a painting by Springfield artist Felicia Olin
visitors to FeliciaWorld, a terrific event
We walked home drank more ale on the front porch. Joining us was my guitar. We serenaded the lawn grubs for about two hours in the perfect autumn-crisp air and turned in early.
The next morning I occupied myself in my home office for two and a half hours waiting for 9 am, and it was time well spent. Then we walked over to my favorite breakfast restaurant a few blocks away and enjoyed another fantastic meal before heading out to the airport where Peter was reunited with his car, and he motored home to an advanced planet.
The visit was great fun. I felt like I was on VACATION. As soon as Peter can find me a place where my songs and poetry — and reciting Vachel Lindsay’s poetry — are welcome for the cost of train fare, I intend to return north, and Peter hopes to bring an aviation enthusiast friend to Springfield, probably next year.
Thanks again to Peter Pero for the memorable visit and to you, the cherished reader of Honey & Quinine for reading this post. If you are into poetry, guitar, aviation or Lincoln and want to visit my town and stay at a semi-famous house where a visitor from an advanced planet slept two nights on a parlor sofa, let me know. I’d likely love to welcome you too.
Live long . . . . . . . . . and proper.
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