Saturday, August 15, 2015
Enigma in an alley
If you look down enough alleys in Chicago, you will eventually see a cellist in a bowler hat.
I know this is true, based on personal experience. Friday evening at the Glenwood Avenue Arts Festival, going on this weekend in Rogers Park, I was doing something utterly mundane: trying to help my younger son find a bathroom. We were proceeding up Glenwood Avenue, when I heard the distinctive sound of cello, turned my head to the left, and saw this tableau.
When you are confronted with something enigmatic, you can do one of two things. You can either keep going about your business, accepting the gift of its mystery. Or you can investigate, plunge into the thicket, push aside the leaves of the puzzle and try to find the truth within. The former is probably the better path for a life imbued with tantalizing possibility and, even, magic. Had I kept walking, i would forever wonder, and never know when I might glance inside a parking garage and see someone juggling, or hear the flute coming from within a ComEd service vault.
But given my personality, and the demands of my trade, I usually take the latter route. My thinking at the moment is, if I don't find out now, I'll never know. I wordlessly handed my glass of watermelon lemonade to my son and went over and approached the man in the derby hat.
Ryan P. Carney. From St. Charles. Indiana University grad. Plays bass with the folk group, Antony and the Tramps. Opened for Spoon at Taste of Chicago last year, carried by WXRT. Was playing in the alley at that moment for the very prosaic reason that he needed to warm up before Antony and the Tramps went onstage.
Of course. Thank you. It all made perfect sense. Which is why, afterward, I was a little sorry I asked. Not to take anything away from Ryan Carney: he was politeness itself. But the truth can be overrated. It's a human desire to want to know the story behind a situation. The explanation falls short of the delightful possibility. You break open a seashell, looking for the source of the swooshing sea, and all you find in your palm are shards of broken shell.