Tuesday, May 6, 2008

R.I.P. Berwyn Spindle

I’m sure you’ll all be happy to know that yesterday evening I resurrected my record player. Its late night squalor (which Scott tells me sounded more like an impact wrench being used at the auto shop across the street than anything wrong with the cats) was apparently a cry for help. So I fiddled with it while dinner simmered and found that it would play the MTX record but it made that awful sound at times, like its motor or some sort of belt was really working in overdrive. Fearful that it would harm the record and also thinking that maybe because it was a colored vinyl and therefore thicker and heavier that the weight was causing the distress, I switched it out for the Pretty in Pink soundtrack (not that I wanted to sacrifice this album, but I did get it used for 1.99 and it was good dinner-making music). Sure enough, it played just fine.

I’m assuming that the cats jumped on the record player and screwed it up at some point or it was the weight of the record, or most likely it is on its last legs, but at least now I have ample time to research and save for a good record player (I’m still taking recommendations!). In the meantime, I will use it gently and unplug it when it is not in use because if it makes those late night noises again, I have a feeling Scott might smash it.

My new theory is that the record player may have been sounding a belated death knell for the Berwyn Spindle, which is pictured above. You may recognize the Spindle from the classic movie Wayne’s World (ahem, well it’s a classic in my mind. I can watch that movie again and again and it’s still hilarious). You know when they are driving around listening to “Bohemian Rhapsody” and they pick up hungover Phil and tell him that if he’s going to spew, he should “spew into this,” a crumpled Dixie cup that Garth hands him. (Yeah, I do have the movie memorized, so??) Anyway, well, I hate to destroy anyone’s perception of the movie, but they are not driving solely through Aurora, Illinois. That spindle of cars with the Volkswagen Bug on top is (or was, sniff!) located in Berwyn, Illinois, a town that borders Oak Park, where I grew up.

The Spindle was in a strip mall along with this sculpture of a wall of garbage that I was never sure if I liked or not. It was pretty hideous, but it seemed to be in the shape of the United States and I thought it might be making an interesting political statement… Anyway, I loved the Spindle. We all did. Then the bastards that own the strip mall decided that corporate greed overrules art (what else is new) and that the 24 hour Walgreens that is located in the strip mall was at a huge disadvantage because in its current place it couldn’t have a drive-thru pharmacy (oh boo hoo!). So they decided to knock down the Spindle and build a free-standing Walgreens (which, goddamnit, I will never go to! If I need a 24 hour Walgreens in an emergency, I will drive farther to the one in Elmwood Park. Personally, I still use an independent pharmacy, not as convenient as Walgreens, but I like to patronize independent businesses whenever possible.)

The people of Berwyn and Spindle-lovers across the nation tried to fight The Man and Save the Spindle, but alas under the cover of night (this tends to be how The Man operates in the Chicago area, anyone else remember when Mayor Daley decided to take it upon himself to demolish Meigs Field? Gotta love Chicago politics.) on Friday, May 2, the Spindle was demolished. You can see the destruction here. It’s pretty depressing:

I know it sounds like I’m making light of this a little bit, but while it’s kinda funny, it’s really not. It pisses me off that Walgreens wins over public art, even if the public art is a little bit odd and tacky and hasn’t be properly kept up (isn’t that the fault of the strip mall owner anyway?). And it makes me sad to see parts of my childhood disappear. That’s a large part of why I wrote my second book (which I still have no updates on for ya, sorry!). I wanted to capture the Oak Park/Berwyn/Forest Park/River Forest area that I grew up in. I’ve made a mental note to reference the Spindle in the manuscript when I revise it.

*Sigh*, farewell Spindle.Okay, to alleviate my sadness, please share some kooky or cool landmarks in your town or area. I know everyone has something!

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