Day 1 (April 21th) : Steak ‘N Shake, Manic Depression, and Laughter

 The madness began in the afternoon on the next day. At first, it seemed to be easy when I woke up in the morning. I had a simple breakfast on the third floor, checked my e-mail, and learned Michael suggested the lunch at that famous Steak ‘N shake. I cut my hair(There is a barbershop on Green Street. I gave it a try but $19 was too much considering the result), bought some sportswear only with $10, and waited for others at the lobby. That was where I met Ali Arikan from Istanbul, Turkey. I heard from Carol a lot about his brutal rampage on Chicago restaurant business in previous week. You will believe in his conquest as much as you believe in Santa Claus. You will instinctively know he’s capable of that as soon as you see him. He’s the man of relentless metabolism; and also relentlessly smooth and charming talker. Like Jim Emerson said, you can sing about him like that; “Prince Ali, “….. wait, what was after that? That is the one of the reasons I cannot sing well.

 Around PM 1:00, We(Gerardo and Monica, Michael, Ali, and me) finally appreciated the family restaurant chain where Roger sang a long odd for it in his blog last year. We the juries found that Steak ‘N Shake is incredibly guilty for that. With just $10(including tip and tax), I was served with delicious double steakburger with bacon and cheese, a big glass of mint chocolate milkshake, and big, crisp onions rings. As a foreigner who had been abused with those small, tasteless ones by Burger King and other fast food chains in my country, this was sort of salvation. This supersize treat was still not healthy for you body, but you can make some exception with Steak ‘N Shake.

Roger And Chaz

 The passage of the time was accelerated more. Remaining time had been quickly evaporated and it was around PM 5:00, time for the Opening gala at President’s House on W. Florida St. I met homely Omer first, and then other far-flung foreign correspondents appeared before my eyes. Tom Dark, one of regular commenters in Roger’s blog, was platonically infatuated with Grace Wang. They would have talked for a long time if not for “Pink Floyd The Wall” at PM 7:30. Omar Moore, whose review for “Malcolm X” had been just posted on our website, was quite a rambunctious guy with a big camera(In case of photography, as in “Blow Up”, the size does matter). He was kind and likeable as much as any other foreign correspondents.

(From Left) Omar, Gerardo, Michael, David Bordwell, Me, and Omer

 After several opening speeches, we were introduced by Chaz one by one, and so were other well-known guests like Charlie Kauffman, Issac Chung, Michael Tolkin, the director of “The New Age”, and, of course, Vincent. He changed his clothes again and we would see he would be consistently colorful in next days.

 My brain was busy with names of people and what was said, my stomach was busy with finding a substitute dinner at that place, and my hand was busy with camera. The ceremony was quickly over and we moved to the Virginia theater, which would be the center of our collective dream for 5 days. 

 First movie was Alan Parker’s “Pink Floyd the Wall”, one of recent additions to Roger Ebert’s Great movies. I have seen it with pan-and-scan VHS once in 2000, so it was quite refreshing to watch it on the big screen of Virginia theater. The movie is virtually a long music video of manic depression, and you can’t help but be rivetted by its power from the mix of music and images. It constantly grabs us with memorable moments; grotesque animations including a violent struggle between two flowers(male and female), young students put into the meat grinder one by one in line, few drops of blood on the soapy water during shaving of all hair body by the protagonist named Pink(Bob Geldof). I told Michael Mirasol that “Across the Universe”, a Beatles music video movie filled with equally striking images plus lots of optimism, would make a good double feature show with this movie.

Ali Arikan, Tom Dark, and Christy Lemire

  Roy Andersson’s “You, the Living” is other good alternative. People in the movie are depressing, but we all found 50 vignettes in the movie absolutely hilarious. When I watched it first, I found this weird cross between Tati(“Playtime”) and Bunuel(“The Phantom of Liberty”) very funny. This time, I discovered something new. The theater was shaken with laughter from audience including us. Roger made a right choice; this is the movie that deserved to be seen by people as many as possible. Within 30 minutes, we all got out of the depression caused by Pink Floyd and pleasant Q & A with Michael Phillips, Elvis Mitchell, Gerardo, and Roger.   followed after the end credit. I’m not good at throwing questions, so I just sat and observe others like when I was at Steppenwolf theater. Audience discussed and asked about it. If you had looked at me closely, you would have been read my thought: “Hmmmm…. Why didn’t I think of that?” The show of that day was over, and we all had a good time.

(From the left) Roger, Gerardo, Unidenfied panelist, Elvis Mitchell and Micheal Phillips

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