Tuesday, January 05, 2010

The Illustrated Adventures of Louis Sullivan

On the snowy afternoon of January 5, 1890, beloved local architect Louis Sullivan is having his portrait made at the photographic studio of Hesler and Associates of Chicago. Not only is Sullivan America's greatest architect, he has also been described as the windy city's most "bewitchingly bewildering bachelors".

He is noted for his beautifully twinkling dark eyes and a beard that the notorious tabloid Bachelor Boys Bonanza describes as being "pleasantly plush and pliant."

Suddenly the photographic session is interrupted by the entrance of a breathless, half naked bike messenger dressed as Mercury who announces, "Mr. Sullivan, I have been instructed to invite you 120 years into the future to the grand opening of the great-great-great-grandchild of your magnificent contribution to modernism, the Auditorium Building."

Though initially perplexed, Sullivan is too easily seduced by adventure not to respond and is soon on the Trans-Arabian Zephyr racing into the future and the Mideast.Sullivan, who 12 decades earlier created the tallest building in the world, has been asked to share his opinion of the latest holder of this somewhat dubious title casting its long shadow over Dubai. Just as Robert Oppenheimer came to regret his best known invention, Sullivan's eyes swell with tears and he coughs as he chokes back a hearty sob. Finally, as the architectural tabloids press him for an opinion on the Burj Khalifa, formerly known as the Burj Dubai, Sullivan finally offers succinctly but honestly, "Well, it's clearly of very juicy proportions."
The master architect is soon whisked to the building's elegantly appointed penthouse where Lulu Brobstein, the reported Perle Mesta of the Gulf is hosting one of her notorious parties filled with "perennial bachelors" who banter about art, politics and the latest innovations in shoe cream. Lulu's wrap around balcony boasts views of both the Persian Gulf and the Gulf of Oman. "On a clear day you can see from Dubai to Mumbai," Lulu cackles. Sullivan also notes that on a windy day, the top floor sways a good five feet in each direction, a clear reminder to him that any structure taller than the Woolworth Building is obscene excess. Though no stranger to such parties in 1890s Chicago and able to carry on an enlightened conversation about art and the grammar of ornamentation, Sullivan feels quite uncomfortable in this bevy of constructed socialites. He pretends not to hear comments about his "Edwardian ball pinching garb" and resists snarking back about how their suits remind him of elephantine drapes floating around the bloated torsos of unenlightened Buddhas.
This stale atmosphere soon tires Sullivan and he retreats to a notorious, abandoned mosque near the darkened waterfront. Here he encounters gentlemen more suiting to his taste and temperament, but he soon realizes their "gentlemanly" hesitation and inability to articulate the obvious is both tedious and fruitless.
Finally before making his way back to the Trans-Arabian Zephyr, Sullivan saunters into a waterfront saloon where the drinks and men are of more than juicy proportions. He admires the seamless towers of glass, thinking of structures devoid of a steel skeleton and able to enjoy their cool refreshment and intoxication yet still unable to embrace that towering monstrosity he was dragged here to pay homage to. Finishing his last drink and bidding adieu to his fellow bachelors, Sullivan realizes his proper place is back in the twilight of the 19th century,where he can peer ahead into the possibilities of modernism without having the endure all of its detours and mis-steps.Midway through the journey backwards, the Zephyr stops to refuel and offer figs and chai to its passengers. Sullivan spies something curious outside the window and then steps out to more closely examine this curious ritual. Why it is our own Junk Thief executive committee, worshiping a golden pig in front of an ornate Indochinese pagan shrine. At first a bit disturbed by such idolatry, Sullivan is soon struck by the elegant beauty of the shrine itself and joins the trio in their worship. But his prayer is soon interrupted as the Zephyr whistle blows and he is transported back to 1890 yet mildly aware of the impending arrival of the shattering of time.

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At 6:24 PM, Blogger Bryce Digdug said...

Juicy. Did the bike messenger have tiny wings on his feet?

At 10:59 PM, Blogger Ladrón de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Bryce - Yes. Gossamer wings. no less.


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