Postmodern Collage Poetry

A blog about writing collage poetry, post modern poetry, multi lingual poetry

Friday, April 28, 2006

The Poetic Death of Marshall Fields

It was announced today in the Chicago Tribune that by summer Marshall Fields will be no more.

This story along with others has caused me to pause and to reflect. In his book of poetry called Revenants and then in another Shut Up Shut Down, Poet Mark Nowak talks about the end of White Ethnic/Working Class America vis a vis closed factories and bars in Ethnic neighborhoods. Nowak's America is a little bleaker than mine but it is a poetic America most poets have chosen to ignore and in its place they have chosen to write about art or pop films.

I have been fortunate in my life to have lived in or been influenced by great unique locales- Lombardia in Italy, Brazil, Bolivia and of course Chicago.

But I have also had the experience of living in the great anticeptic America that is like an ooze wearing away uniqueness. I lived in Dallas for three years and I had some great friends, poets and non poets but Dallas is what America has become and it means something more than easy access to parking. I remember once being in Orlando, Florida and seeing a building that looked like the White House but it was upside down?! Only in places like Florida where there is no history and where the strip mall and the strip club are high art could this building exist.

If you grew up in a place like Chicago or any city from New England, Mid Atlantic, Midwest or Upper South there were some solid things that existed that over my lifetime (1967-Today) have been removed. Working class people in this America were the backbone on our cities; today huge factories like the Western Electric Plant in Cicero, Illinois or Southworks in Chicago or the Sears Complex in Chicago are either empty lots or "loft" conversions. This also goes for neighborhoods and parishes where today neighborhoods that I knew no longer exist and the parishes are closed.

So what is the point of the Poetic Death of Marshall Fields?

A store that most working class Chicagoans could not even afford to buy in?

It is the removal of an icon of what if meant to arrive in a city like Chicago. Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, and alike could write about the down and out and the working class but the minute that those people moved up one of the constants was having the chance to shop at Marshall Fields, eat in the Walnut Room and walk into the Atrium of that 100 year old store that when it was built was not open to Blacks, Jews, Ethnic Catholics or others.

It is in the unique places that poetry is found, places that cannot be replicated. But the unique places are slowly going away. Go to the lower East side of Manhattan and after you leave the Starbucks ask me if this is a place that is so much different from anticeptic America?

Nelson Algren's Wicker Park is today an "artist yuppie" Disneyland, New Orleans, one of the unique places is no longer on the map, in Places like Italy and France people protest to retain their daily rhythms and they are told that they are "retrograde" and "lazy" so the Italian two hour lunch is gone and the four hour Bolivian siesta is gone and the Italians and Bolivians begin to get obese and stressfilled and for what end?

I recently wrote about the Italian painter Garosio who painted the Pre Alpine people of Italy. Garosio was of the place where he painted he understood the fibers of he people he saw and he understood the rhythm of their lives. It seems that the goal of the current world is to remove this from us and to replace that rhythm with the white ear buds of an IPod or the simple banality of the Dallas Galleria.

So as I go out this morning into my Chicago street with its distinctive brick bungalows
and grid of streets I will enjoy the last bit of uniqueness. Then I will go to Target to buy stuff......