I should've been born when swing
dancing was first introduced.
When grand ballrooms and movie palaces
dotted the urban landscape
and Roger's Park was the neighborhood
for the nouveau riche.
I should've been born in time for the
Great Experiment, when hooch
was served in swank back alley
parlors and gangsters ran the city,
though the politicians would tell you
I should have been born for the
glorious days of the city, when
the El was new, Art Deco was
daring, when fedoras were
snatched off and trench coats
flapped crisply in the
November winds of the Loop,
amplified by the concrete canyons
of the "skyscrapers."
So now, I get twinges of nostalgia
for a time I never knew,
and déjà vu from events long before
my time, before my parents' time.
I was born too late, a concrete and steel soul
in a silicon world.
I marvel at the beauty of the Aragon, and mourn
the passing of the Granada, the Paradise, like beautiful,
melancholy spirits exorcised to the realm of emulsion, gray
and sepia tones fading into the pit of collective oblivion,
victims of electronic nepenthe.
Tolstaya was right; the best time is always
yesterday, for yesterday is our gauge of remembered
happiness. The Depression recedes in our memory, replaced by
joyful memories of World's Fairs, homecomings of our soldiers,
fondly remembered Independence Days, New Year's Eves, and
Midwest Christmases, with warm remembrances nestled in
winter's snowy bosom.
And despite our efforts to beat back the destructive, ravaging
hand of time, he and progress march on, arm in arm, altering,
demolishing, and building anew fuel for tomorrow's nostalgia.
What we recall with a fond remembrance has passed, and will
be replaced by what we cherish today, all in due time. And thus
the rapacious whims of fashion's cycles leave behind a trail of broken
recollections, as glittering and beautiful as the spray of glass
at the moment of a wrecking ball's impact.