Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Crime and controversy

A seagull struts his stuff along Oak Beach.

Three weeks in Chicago and I’ve still not heard a gunshot. Plenty of sirens though, howling like demented dogs throughout the night.
So, how safe is the place? Yesterday in the college canteen I put the question to Blyth, a young woman in her early twenties.
“Lived in the city long?”
“Yep, all my life.”
“Ever had any... er...trouble?”
She nods.
“What happened?”
“ I was 14 at the time, standing at the bus-stop, 7.30. In the morning, waiting to go to school. Two men came up and grabbed me by the throat. One stuck a gun in my face and the other robbed me. They took my school bag. Only five dollars in it though.”
I struggle to find something to say.
“How did you feel?”
“Well,” a slow smile comes over her face.
“I feel I’ve been initiated.”
“A bit like loosing your virginity?”
She nods.

Chicago Gangster Tour

I take one of Chicago's most popular tourist attractions - a guided tour of the sites of notorious crimes from the city's colourful past.

Art or pornography?
There’s an undercurrent of controversy rippling through the college over a sacked feminist lecturer.
It all hinges on whether a lecture she gave on Body Art was art history, performance, or downright pornography.
She hired a performance artist, propped her up naked on a throne like chair, and invited students to peer up her vagina.
Some students were aghast. They complain to college officials. “This is not art!” they argue. “We are not paying good money to look up a woman’s vagina!.” Or words to that effect.
The lecturer is sacked. But the fall out still rumbles on around the college corridors.
So, is it art or is it pornography? In a gallery setting it becomes art, in a brothel it becomes pornography but a classroom?...


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