After weeks of photo editing, writing text, demo books and publisher-hunting, the final product has hit the presses – my coffee table book, A Young Man Goes West, is finally out!
For a few years now, my life had been committed and planned, every weekday subject to a schedule, every trail previously blazed. Nurturing resumes and meeting expectations doesn’t leave much room for really losing yourself and finding your way back. When the opportunity came to take a big fat break from all that, I took it.
It was beautiful – tall, at least 20 stories I thought but it looked taller because there was nothing around it, but also big and regal – it looked like the Venetian Casino tower in Las Vegas, except this was Detroit. It was broad, at least a couple hundred feet wide and a good bit deep too. A double-floor appeared at the top, a hallmark of the original skyscrapers built in Chicago and St. Louis, housing their pumps and elevator machinery and such. I had no idea what it was, but I was drawn in and I drove closer to it.
We stood in the hot Chicago sun on a muggy Saturday in mid-August, scanning the horizon for any of the six F/A-18s lighting up the sky that afternoon. The Blue Angels were in town, the stars of the Chicago Air and Water Show.
Here was Omaha growing up, turning hip and cosmopolitan and urban, maintaining its underappreciated ethnic diversity, turning away from its endless sprawl to the west and finding its youthful pulse.
What possesses a sculptor to turn a mountain into a Presidential memorial, I wondered. But this sentiment occurred often to me in South Dakota: why this, why here, why? I took the short stroll along the boardwalk leading to the foot of the mountain and stared up at the four of them: they seemed equally puzzled at their situation. Was Teddy the only one who had actually been anywhere close to here?
Here in roughly the north-central part of the state, some ways east of the cowboy-touristy town of Cody and Greybull where I’d stopped for lunch, the plains dropping down from the Yellowstone plateau had climbed back up into the sky.