Highway 61

I was in Chicago last weekend visiting my friend Jean from Kentishtown in London back in the mid-80’s. We had breakfast at a Greek restaurang in downtown Barrington. The owner asked me if I thought Europe would break up – I said I didn’t think so. Then when leaving the restaurang I was approcahed by a Swedish-speaking man that had lived in Göteborg (my home town) on Aschebergsgatan and studied at the Sahlgrenska Hospital. Isn’t that a coincidence? We then took the Metra train into the city and did a lunch cruise on the lake & it was nice to see the big city skyline & the DJ played that wonderful Frank Sinatra song that starts out with “Chicago, Chicago, that toddlin’ town”. People were dancing on the floor in the middle of the day. Also found time to go to the Chicago Art Institute and see the early 20:th century cubists.

On Sunday, going back to Northfield, I couldn’t refrain from hitting highway 61. I followed it from somewhere north of Dubuque up to La Crosse where I crossed the Mississippi in darkness. Anyone growing up with Dylan music in the 60’s knows the magic of that song “Highway 61 Revisited”. It actually features a lot of numbers: 0, 1, 2, 5, 7, 40 and 1000 apart from 61 which happens to be the 18:th prime number. Some numerology! You can also find the successor function in there. There are actually quite a few numbers in Dylan songs from the 60’s.

The highway itself, somewhat disappointedly,  was much like any other two-lane highway. It features in a road movie  with the same name from 1991 (by Bruce McDonald). I saw it at the Göteborg Film Festival late one Saturday night. The audience were folding and ripping their tickets to make shrill whistling noises – just like when we were kids and went to the matinees to see Buster Keaton, the Marx Brothers and films like that.

But forgive me these frivolities! I came back late Sunday night to Northfield to what turned out to be a very intense week of classroom observations and many interesting conversations at Carleton College and Macalester College from early mornings till late evenings. I’ll write about it when I’ve managed to sort it all out – if and when!

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