Chicago. Legendary Promised Land of the black migration. City of Big Shoulders. City on Lake Michigan. City of the Chicago White Sox…and the hapless Cubs.
In fact, that’s what today was about: Seeing the Chicago Cubs play at one of America’s oldest ballparks, Wrigley Field. Nothing to do with Bob Dylan, though we thought something magical might occur. But a good time and we all agreed Wrigley is a rival to Larry’s beloved Fenway. Has that old time feel. (Bill prefers the original Yankee Stadium. What? They should agree?)
Actually, last night we turned on the TV at the home of our superb host, Jamie Schechter, (Bill’s son) and found ourselves watching Field of Dreams. So naturally later at the ball park, we were closely watching the Wrigley scoreboard and hoping for an unscheduled appearance by Bob that only we could see. It didn’t happen.
But Bob did pop in unexpectedly on no less than two other occasions. First, Larry received a call from an old friend who knew he was passionate about Dylan but who forgot he was on this Bob road trip. She wanted to alert him to the current controversy on a PBS history detective show regarding an important guitar of Dylan’s: The daughter of an airline pilot who once flew Bob around claims to have the Stratocaster electric guitar that Bob used to generate so much controversy at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival. Bob says not true, he has it.
The second miraculous appearance of Bob occurred after we had arrived in Madison, Wisconsin, and checked into our hotel. The ride from Chicago to Madison took 2½ hours and the entire trip was consumed by Bill reading to Larry from Robert Shelton’s Dylan autobiography, specifically the chapters about Bob’s Hibbing youth. A bit of a psychobiography? Good news: we are getting a better understanding of those formative years and will share our conclusions later on. Reaching that understanding has been a real struggle and it ain’t over yet. But progress. Good for us!
Oh yes, that second appearance. At our hotel, Larry extricated his suitcase from the trunk and this simple act ended up as a bit of an archaeological dig: he unearthed an old copy of the NY Times entombed in trunk since August 9, 2009, which he had saved because of an article on the front page he didn’t have time to read on that day. It was an article about Woodstock. Wow. More amazing was another story he hadn’t even noticed: Turns out that an episode of Mad Men, set in 1961, used Dylan’s song “Don’t Thing Twice, It’s All Right.” The reporter made the point that the producers goofed because that the world didn’t know that song existed until 1963. Gosh, if they had just asked, we could have told them that.
OK, so we are now in Madison Wisconsin–“Mad Town”– our launching pad to ground zero. We had a memorable steak dinner at a local landmark, the Tornado Room, and will tour the campus tomorrow. Let’s not forget that Dylan spent some time in Madison after dropping out of the University of Minnesota in 1960, before finding his way to Greenwich Village. He also reportedly rehearsed here secretly for three days in 2007.
Sated by their fantastic meal, Larry and Bill walked out into the Wisconsin night with the beautiful domed, white marble statehouse glowing behind them. T hey looked at each other, and joined in spontaneous prayer that Governor Scott Walker was not a fan of Bob Dylan.
Tomorrow….North Country here we come!