Valentino Georgievski, Puppet Master
On Saturday evening, I spotted a lone firefly in my front yard, flashing his vest-pocket Mazda. He's early, unless the recent heavy rains and lush growth bring masses of them out sooner rather than later. We'll see.
Last week the Art Institute of Chicago lions wore hockey headgear.
As the world well knows, or at least as North America knows, the Stanley Cup belongs to the Blackhawks for now, and besides the Art Institute dressing up the Michigan Avenue lions, last week there were plenty of other visible reminders downtown of the victory. A lot of Blackhawk jerseys and t-shirts on pedestrians, mainly, plus signs in windows and city-hung banners from lampposts.
I didn't make it over to the Chicago Picasso, but I heard that was decorated too. No surprise, really. It got the White Sox treatment back when they won the World Series.
Hockey gear on the bronze mascots of a fine arts palace is one thing, but note the guy in the red shirt and black-and-white cap, facing the crowds along Michigan Avenue. That's puppet master Valentino Georgievski getting ready for his act. How do I know that? I didn't until I stopped to watch him busk.
Summertime Chicago needs more buskers. There's been a history of pigheaded municipal harassment of buskers by the city, and by other U.S. cities, that I can't fathom, and I don't know the current restrictions on the activity. But at least Georgievski, who had a plastic license attached to his belt, seemed to be entertaining without restriction.
His puppets lip-synch and play puppet instruments to pop standards, jazz and blues numbers, which play in the background. The puppets -- Georgievski has four in all -- look the part, and more importantly, have the moves. A small crowd watched. It was much fun. Though this video is blurry, it gives a good impression of his puppetry (one of the songs I saw him do was "Sultans of Swing").
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During a break, I asked him how long he was going to be in Chicago. His home is New Orleans, he said in a thick Central European accent, where it's too hot now for much street theater. He'll be in Chicago through the Taste of Chicago, which packs in the crowds not far from the Art Institute until the Fourth of July, and then it's on to Ocean City, Maryland, for the rest of the summer.
Some time ago, I got some $2 bills at my bank when I noticed that the teller had some. I've given a few away so far as tips or parts of tips. As I left, I wished Georgievski well and put one of my remaining $2 bills in his tip basket.