It was a beautiful summer night at Millennium Park for the opening of Chicago’s Blues Fest.
We arrived in time for a set by the Chicago hip hop star, Rhymefest.
Funny thing about Rhymefest. A couple of years ago he ran for alderman of the 20th Ward and came in second to the incumbent Willie Cochran. Rhymefest got 45.4% of the vote to Cochran’s 54.6%.
About half way through the final set led by the great Chicago bluesman, Billy Branch, a few drops of rain began to fall, chasing away those less experienced with this annual event. It always rains at Blues Fest. The drops lasted just long enough to open a few spots on the lawn for late comers.
The group of young folks nearby would not be moved by rain or threat of rain. They were having too much fun drinking red wine from a plastic bag and passing a joint around, unfased by the private park security that made regular passes checking for who-knows-what.
We, on the other hand, kept our bottle of cheap Bordeaux hidden in a plastic Mexican bag, wrapped in a green kitchen towel, exposing it only long enough to pour some liquid into a red Solo cup.
What a difference 24 hours can make.
Just the day before my brother and I flew out of LAX after spending a few days on what we called our Hitting Left Left Coast Listening Tour.
We stayed in a friends Santa Monica apartment. We revisited old haunts in Topanga Canyon. We caught a Dodger game with old L.A. friends.
The Dodgers usually come to Chicago to play the Cubs at the end of May, corresponding to my brother’s birthday. Tickets to a Dodger/Cubs game have become my annual birthday present to my older brother and radio-cohost. For some strange reason they played the season home opener. It is just too cold to go to Wrigley in Mid-April.
“Let’s fly to L.A. in June and catch a game at Dodger Stadium,” I suggested.
Wednesday we were sitting behind home plate eating a Dodger Dog and watching the masterful Clayton Kershaw pitch.
They call the weather in Los Angeles this time of year the June Gloom. Clouds hug the coast until noon.
Sitting over breakfast at The Rose Cafe in Venice we talked about how politics and the economy of California had changed since we grew up there. Governor Jerry Brown was featured on the front page of the Los Angeles Times being greeted by the Chinese leaders as if he were head of state.
California has the fifth largest economy in the world. Brown was in China to assure them that no matter what President Looney Tunes may be up to, California was about a 21st Century Green Economy. Not a 19th Century fossil fuel economy.
A few days out of town hasn’t changed some things in Chicago.
Like the tragic killing of young Xavier Joy, apparently over a cell phone.
Chicago’s own June Gloom has nothing to do with the weather.
In fact, Chicago’s gun violence is a gloom that lasts all twelve months.
At last night’s Blues Fest, Rhymefest’s raps called for peace.
“Put yourself between a bullet and a target.”