Chairman Bao is a Shih Tzu. We travel a lot. I drive. He watches. We've logged at least 10,000 miles and he's never once said, Sweetheart, don't you think you should stop and ask someone?

Thursday, June 21, 2007

The road to Wichita took us through Greensburg, home of the largest hand-dug well in the world. You can actually walk down a stairway into it, or rather, you used to be able to walk down a stairway into it, before the tornado hit last month.
I'd seen the photos, of course. You probably saw them too. But I didn't connect the dots (as they say) until I was driving into Greensburg, or what's left of it. Not much is left. And forget about photographs, or even videos. Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- could possibly convey the utter destruction and desolation, the obliteration of an entire town and just about everything in it. Everywhere, rubble. Everything flattened. Torn-up, blackened trees. And the silence. Total devastation. Unexpected, and quite awful.
By the time we reached Wichita, what I really wanted was a nice lunch and a couple of glasses of wine. We drove around looking for a restaurant, but all we could find were buffet places, so I ended up eating the banana I got at the La Quinta and saved for just such an emergency. Then we visited to the Ulrich Museum of Art at Wichita State University.
It's beautifully done. And one of the exhibitions -- Poets on Painting -- really grabbed me. This is one of the most unusual and effective artistic collaborations I've seen, pairing 20 artists with 20 poets and simultaneously evoking both a visual and a literary response. Here's a taste. You're looking at Mequita Ahuja's "Tsunami Generation". It's about animals, wolves and seals and elephants and polar bears. (Bao is the blur at the bottom)
The poem is by Eric Baus:
"One blue word removed from the sky is what is noisy in the sky's return. One may decide to leave out the sun.
The song produced inside a wolf is the sound of leaving its wool behind.
A bank becomes blank, sun smears.
Beeds revolve, flowers end in the month of cow.
Sleep next to a wolf, sleep next to the ground it effaces.
A bear may lift a woman when its fur no longer culls. Some blood shifts mid-breast. Some blood becomes a red dress."
Interesting, huh?
Next stop, Kansas City.


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