Monday, February 2, 2009

Waiting in the Green Room at WGN Chicago

You have glimmers of something passing. Sometimes you just know that what you are seeing might not be around too long. Maybe it was the space reserved for the microphone from the Scopes monkey trial. Maybe it was the foundation of the Chicago Tribune building inscribed on Lower Michigan with Culled in 1920. The slight wisp of snow in the cold darkness as a guard buzzes you into the WGN studio in the bowels of the old Tribune building and you follow a man up to the green room, passing the cases where old microphones reside and black and white pictures of celebrities long passed. Then you sit down and wait and there is no one there in the green room, just you and rows and rows of pictures of people who look curiously human. The celebrity quality is gone and they are just men and women with gray hair, getting old. A thirty minute radio interview on WGN in Chicago is something you want to hang on too. The man doing the interview is the son of a legendary newspaper man from the Chicago Sun Times. You can hear the footfalls and you shake hands and he tells you to relax and do whatever the *&%$ you want. All Chicago old school. Then you are on in front of the WGN microphone telling your story for thirty minutes. You try and imagine people all over Chicago waking up and hearing your voice, but your mind doesn't work that way. All you think is that it is just the two of you talking and it doesn't go near long enough. There are a million things you want to say, but you just can't get it all in and then you are walking back through the silent building and down through the guard room and suddenly outside in the cold. It's barely eight o'clock on a Sunday morning. Chicago is empty and just waking up. You drive through the streets, knowing you have used up one of the moments of your life that will never come back. You hit the city limits, then slip into the past.
Rocket Man will be out in January

Books by William Hazelgrove