Thursday, October 14, 2004

Balcony blog.

Pure fall day, gray and drizzly in the afternoon. I shuttled either in cabs or on foot between the Chicago Hilton and Towers, a.k.a. the Conrad Hilton, site of a convention of the International Council of Shopping Centers (retail guys), my office, and other places.

This kind of thing can be tiring, but there are compensations. Such as: two free meals, one mediocre, one very fine today – that fine one in the evening at Gibson’s on Rush Street, at a function held by a large retail developer, the most active in the nation, I think. Gibson’s is an old-line steak house, exceedingly popular, its walls floor-to-ceiling with photos of notables with the proprietor. Everyone’s been there, except perhaps for famed vegetarians.

At the Hilton Grand Ballroom, as ornate as any palace of old Europe, the ICSC held a cocktail party starting at 5 pm. Hundreds, if not a thousand people, filled this enormous room. I noticed unblocked stairs to the balcony, which runs all the way around the ballroom between the floor and the ceiling. I’d been in the Grand Ballroom a number of times, but never noticed the stairs open. So of course I went up. I was the only one on the balcony. Me on a balcony, a thousand people below; it could have been a Mussolini moment, but no. I didn't speechify, and I was ignored. From that vantage, the sound of a thousand people talking has a certain quality you don’t quite get when you’re among them.


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