"Weapons—guns, knives, brass knuckles, cigarette lighters . . . " The young man's voice trails off. If he were not waving his metal-detector wand at us, I might think that he was offering to sell us a gun or two, not asking us if we were carrying any. "No, they're all in the trunk," Chronicles' assistant editor, Aaron Wolf, cracks, and our art director, Ward Sterett, and Art Johnson, a friend of the magazine and local political scrapper, laugh.
"This is new," I say to the security guard. "Did you have problems last year?" "Oh, yeah, we always do. Just last night, a guy came in with a really cool pocketknife. It's mine now," he says, a smile breaking across his face. "Go on in."
We step through the entrance of the old IGA supermarket in Roscoe, about ten miles north of Rockford and a few south of Wisconsin. Two high-school girls take our money—seven dollars apiece—and hand us each a coupon for a dollar off admission to their sister establishment, in a barn outside of Belvidere. "After you've gone through both, you get to vote on which one was better." After the discount, the other one is only $4.50. I already know which way I would vote.
We walk down an unlit hallway with walls of black-painted flakeboard, under a ceiling of black plastic wrap. As the light from the entrance vanishes, the hallway...