Ravinia Festival Pavilion
Highland Park, IL«archive page
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions.....Guy Noir, Private Eye.
GK: It was July, one of those brilliant summer days, and I was in Chicago (TRAFFIC) lying around on the lakeshore and listening to the Elevated Train heading for the Loop (TRAIN), one of the wonders of the world, and high in the sky a plane circling over toward O’Hare (SFX) and you could imagine the great view of Chicago from 8000 feet ---- the Loop, the Chicago River, the parks, the beaches, and those long narrow parking lots that extend for miles north and south and west. One more beautiful reason to be a pedestrian. Listen to kids playing in the fountain (SFX) and a guy playing music (SOFT SAXOPHONE)----and a lady at her hot dog cart with an umbrella.
SS: HEY HOW ABOUT A HOT DOG? YOU LOOK KINDA DOWN IN THE MOUTH. HOW ABOUT IT? CHICAGO DOG.
GK: Not hungry, but thanks.
SS: YOU’RE HUNGRY AND YOU DON’T KNOW IT.
GK: I had a salad an hour ago.
SS: A SALAD! THAT’S NOT ENOUGH TO KEEP YOU GOING! YOU NEED A HOT DOG. PLUS WHICH IT’S A CHICAGO DOG, SO IT’S GOT A SALAD INCLUDED. SAME PRICE.
GK: What’s on it?
SS: YOU GOT YOUR MUSTARD, CHOPPED ONION, CHOPPED TOMATO, CHOPPED PEPPER ---- YOU GOT CELERY SALT ---- A COUPLE SLICES CUCUMBER ---- PLUS YOUR SWEET PICKLE RELISH. AND WE ALSO TOSS IN THE HOT DOG. IN A BUN, NO LESS.
GK: How about ketchup?
SS: I don’t have any ketchup.
GK: No ketchup?
SS: I never heard of putting ketchup on hot dogs.
GK: You haven’t?
SS: Not around here I haven’t. You from Wisconsin?
GK: Okay, mustard then.
SS: (TWO SQUORTS) How about a beer with that?
GK: I don’t know. It’s early in the day.
SS: Too early for beer? What? You from Utah?
GK: Beer. Fine. (POP OPEN CAN, POUR)
SS: There you go. Hot dog and a beer. Welcome to Chicago..
GK: How much I owe you?
SS: I want you to do me a favor.
GK: What’s that?
SS: You’re Guy Noir. Aren’t you?
GK: How’d you know?
SS: I listen to you on the radio.
SS: I want you to save Wrigley field, Mr. Noir. Please. It’s a beautiful little ballpark. It gives people pleasure.
GK: Save it from what?
SS: Save it from the developers.
SS: They’re everywhere. (STING)
GK: So I went to visit my good friend Monsignor Flaherty, the rector at St. Wladislaw’s.
TR (IRISH): Ah, Mr. Noir, good to see you, good to see you.
GK: You still have the Cubs shrine here, I see, Monsignor.
TR (IRISH): Yes. It’s where our people come and say a
prayer for the boys. A little holy water can’t hurt.
GK: So you believe in the curse of the Cubs?
TR (IRISH): More than a century and no championship. Feels like a curse to us. But I’m a believer. They’re starting slow this year but I have faith that the Cubs will win the World Series in October. Or November, whenever they’re play it now.
GK: That’d be quite a day for Chicago, huh.
TR (IRISH): Twould indeed. A joyful day. But also a tragic day.
GK: How’s that?
TR (IRISH): The death toll would be enormous. All those elderly Cubs fans lying in nursing homes----the shock would be too great----- they’d be dropping like flies. No more reason to live. (BRIDGE)
GK: St. Wladislaw’s is on the North Side and Monsignor Flaherty knew the owner of the Cubs, Mr. Wrigley.
TR (IRISH): He’s a fine man. A good man. He’s doing a lot for Chicago. And he’s going to make a fine contribution to St. Wladislaw’s. (BRIDGE)
GK: He gave me Mr. Wrigley’s address and I dropped in.
FN: Come in, Mr. Noir.
GK: Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Wrigley. I thought your family had sold the ballclub.
FN: I’m not one of those Wrigleys, Mr. Noir. My family
didn’t make chewing gum, my mother danced in burlesque. Her name had been Keillor but she changed it to Wrigley because she wriggled. It was her professional name.
GK: I see, but you were saying her name had been what?
FN: She did well as a dancer and attracted the eye of a man named Sears. Not the department store tycoon. His real name was Sergei Raskolnikov. He shortened it to Sears.
GK: Okay, but going back to your mother for a moment----
FN: She was a tall blonde woman, extremely attractive, and
men came around after her show pawing her and grabbing her, and finally she started charging them money, and that was how my family invented the handling charge.
GK: I see, but that was interesting what you said ab out-----
FN: And that’s how we earned our fortune. Every time you charge something, every time you use a credit card, buy something online ----- you’ll notice there’s a handling charge. That’s ours. Handling charges. Last year we earned 347 million dollars.
GK: Okay, but if I could ask one question about your mother—
FN: And that’s how I came to buy the Chicago Cubs. And the Art Institute of Chicago. And the Chicago Symphony. And the Sears Tower.
GK: You bought the Chicago Symphony?
FN: They were losing money and I bought them and they’re in the black.
GK: How’d you do that?
FN: Synthesizers. No point in having a hundred musicians onstage. You can use synthesizers and electronics to make 13 musicians sound like a hundred.
GK: And the Art Institute?
FN: Same thing. Turned it around. Earning a profit now. We’re renting out those paintings so they create some cash flow. We’ve got ”American Gothic” booked for the next ten years. The Rembrandts, the Monets, the Picassos ---- you pay a thousand bucks a day, you can have a masterpiece in your office or home.
GK: And the Cubs?
FN: The Cubs have been losers long enough. We’re going to turn them around, too.
GK: By renting out players?
FN: I’ll tell you later. Let’s go. (STING, HELICOPTER)
GK: We boarded his helicopter and flew over the ballpark where the team was taking batting practice. (LANDING, ROTORS SLOW) A beautiful little jewel of a ballpark, Wrigley Field. Vines on the outfield fence. An old-fashioned scoreboard. The bleachers, home of the true blue Cubs fan.
(FOOTSTEPS, BALLPLAYERS IN DISTANCE)
FN: It’s a nice ballpark but it’s way out of date. Completely inadequate. Sure, some people like it, but more people are going to like the new ballpark.
GK: So what are you planning to do?
FN: We’re going to turn Wrigley Field into a multi-use sports complex. We’re going to build sky boxes. Ten levels of skyboxes. And above that, forty floors of condominiums. Apartments for sale, starting at a quarter-million.
GK: A forty-story building?
FN: Surrounding the playing field.
GK: But the sunlight?
FN: Don’t need sunlight. We’re gonna project the game onto the inside of the dome.
GK: A dome?
FN: Like an Omnitheater. With reclining chairs so people get the full experience.
GK: So nobody’s going to be watching the actual game? Just video?
FN: You get better close-ups this way. Like you’re on the field with the players. And we’re going to put in a big electronic scoreboard with a high-definition screen so the fans can see replays of the highlights. The Cubs haven’t had that because there weren’t any highlights. But now there will be.
GK: Condos at Wrigley Field? You’re going to get a lot of opposition to that, Mr. Wrigley.
FN: Doesn’t matter. It’ll all be forgotten the moment the Cubs win the World Series.
GK: You think so?
FN: I know so.
GK: One more beautiful thing in America on the verge of destruction. Heart-breaking. We walked out through the left field fence and onto Waveland Avenue and the buildings facing Wrigley where people sit on the roofs and watch the games. Mr. Wrigley walked across the street and he said----
FN: Success is its own justification, Mr. Noir. The end justifies the means. Once you get to the top, people forget how you got there. It’s been shown time and time again.
GK: And just then I heard the (SFX) crack of a bat and looked up and saw the ball coming ---- I was going to say something, but I heard someone say---- (TR: Hey) ---- and I turned and (INCOMING BALL, KONK, GROAN)----- the ball bounced off Mr. Wrigley’s head. He looked at me, dazed.
FN: I’m coming, Mama. ----- What’s for supper? ---- Can I open my birthday presents now, Mama? Where’s Rex? Rex?? Rex!!!! Come here, boy. (BRIDGE)
GK: They found Mr. Wrigley a nice place to live and a dog
named Rex and every day he got birthday presents and he seemed to be happy as could be. The blow to his head had made him a Unitarian so his gift to St. Wladislaw’s got cancelled, but Monsignor Flaherty was okay with that.
TR (IRISH): It doesn’t matter. We saved Wrigley Field. We put the musicians back in the orchestra. And we brought the lady and the farmer with the pitchfork back to Chicago. He had rented it out to New York. What does New York know about American Gothic? Their idea of farming is tossing a salad. (BRIDGE)
GK: Small victories, but those are the best kind. The big ones so often turn out to be defeats. I had a few hours so I walked around Chicago. A great city. Not all hearts and flowers, as you know. Cubs fans have been known to boo their team. Because they believe that victory is possible, you just have to know who to pay off.
TR (RICO): Psssst. Over here. It’s me. Al. You want a World Series trophy, you got it. I’ll take care of it. No problem.
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still trying to find the answers to life’s persistent questions. Guy Noir, Private Eye.
Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).