Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Thursday, July 25

Gapers Block

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As an occasional diversion, I will feature someone outside of the arts in this column, posing three questions concerning art to someone who services the city and/or its citizenry in one capacity or another.

Life-long Chicagoan Victor Megaro serves as Fire Marshal for the City of Chicago, where he assists the Fire Chief in determining the origin and cause of fires by way of reading burn patterns, knowing ignition temperatures of different materials, upper and lower explosive limits, vapor densities, specific gravities, interviews, room reconstructions, etc., and works in tandem with Chicago Police Department Bomb and Arson, ATF, FBI and the State Fire Marshal's Office. Megaro is a 17-year veteran of the Chicago Fire Department, 12 of which have been served in Fire Investigation. He currently teaches Fire Investigation through Harold Washington College.

Q: Where do you find art in your work?

Megaro: The art of the interview. It's kind of a living art form. Some people are truthful, most are not. Differentiating between the two, I believe, is not only an art form, but one of the "tools of the trade" that is extremely helpful. Interviewing someone who has just lost a loved one is not a pleasant thing to do.

Q: Should art entertain or provoke? Should art jar one's politics, make one question his or her faith? Or, should art just throw politics and faith out the door?

Megaro: In most cases, art should provoke the observer if they, too, are an artist. Art should entertain if the observer is not. I'm very entertained by Salvador Dali but am not provoked to do anything but enjoy the work. That being said, provocative artwork, on the other hand, could provoke me to be a little more creative behind closed doors. Here's the thing, I can be entertained by the art of the perfect golf swing but I'm still not going to shoot par anytime soon. If you enjoy the art, be it painting, piano playing or golfing, you still have to put the time in to hone your skills and reach a different level of personal accomplishment. So entertaining versus provoking? It truly is in the eye of the beholder.

Q: Who's your favorite artist, and how would you explain to this person your first experience with his or her work?

Megaro: Count Basie. Not very intriguing but a Basie CD was delivered to my house addressed to somebody else. I played it, I kept it, and now I have an extensive Basie compilation. Wish I remembered the intended recipient of the CD, I'd give it back now. Too late. Basie just never misses a lick. Some of the most complicated shit I've ever heard, yet it seems so fun for them to play. You just know they were smiling while recording.

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About the Author(s)

John Hospodka is a life-long Chicagoan, and today lives with his wife in Bridgeport. He does not profess to be an expert in anything; he's just a big fan of the arts and is eager to make more sense of them. Direct comments or suggestions for interviews to

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