Whistler's Mother is LeBron James

Whistler’s Mother is LeBron James

‘Whistler’s Mother is LeBron James’ Thorsten Sahlin’s first piece for COA. You can check out his new author Q&A piece here if you want to know a little more about people that actually enjoy Malort or being from everywhere and nowhere all-at-once.

It is not without an eye roll that I hear about a world-famous painting exhibiting at the Art Institute of Chicago. Individuals who normally wouldn’t spend 1.5 seconds on a lesser-known painting come in droves to view a work because someone else told them it’s important. With this in mind, I had reservations about going to see Arrangement in Gray and Black No. 1 (Whistler’s Mother). Is this epitome of all things matronly worth trudging through the galleries of screaming children? Is it worth listening to their khaki-baptized parents summarizing the description from the pamphlet to one another as if these are their own takeaways from the piece? Oddly enough, the answer for me is almost always yes. After, all someone told me it’s important. Continue reading

As Seen at Union Station, Chicago, IL

From the Jackson Boulevard mezzanine overlooking the Great Hall at Chicago Union Station. 12:34-12:56 PM, 23 February 2016
Da' Bears, reflected in the freshly-polished marble of iconic Great Hall at Chicago Union Station

Da’ Bears, reflected in the freshly-polished marble. Click to follow COA on Instagram

Two Mennonites spring from the mezzanine overlooking the Great Hall, then mount a marble railing, slide down it out of sight. Seeing this is one of the highlights of my life to date. Four Indian men power walk around the rectangular Great Hall and discuss business on a level most people can only imagine. Around the rectangular Great Hall.

Two good ol’ boys wait to board train 21, the Texas Eagle. South-bound. Maybe they head to Texarkana, where the station is split in two by a state border. They have matching styrofoam cups, and giggle a little more with every sip. Might not be just Pepsi. The Indian men pass underneath me again. This is a working lunch in action. The Mennonite women sit and discuss matters humbly. They have no idea the heathen mischief their men just perpetrated on that railing.

The ancient bucket seat benches under the Great Hall skylight have to be one of the best places to catch a few winks in all Chicagoland. And when you awaken, there are the heavens above you. Namaste. People leave their eyes on me awhile, I suppose returning the favor. I wonder how they’d write about the nattily-dressed man staring back at them. They’re right to be suspicious. The commuters put their head down and go. They only look up to grimace at the long distance passengers, they wandering in wonderment and getting in the way. Is all Chicago so grand?

One last pass by the walking working lunch. Teach me your work ethic, man! I go out for lunch, but I stop and write!


The reflective marble floor of the iconic Chicago Union Station Great Hall

Old Glory reflected in the marble floor of Union Station. Click to follow COA on Instagram.

For more short stories from Charlie’s trips across the Heartland, check out our Enjoy the Journey archives. To never miss a new journey, follow Cult of Americana via email.