It is blindingly brilliant, the brightness riveting the attention even of those who are not looking, the attention of the hundreds standing dumbly on the el platform each morning, looking down into the street, the hundreds who sit in their cars at the intersection of Belmont and Sheffield, waiting, with resignation, for the light to change. All these, the sign of the 1000 Liquors greets.
“Good morning” isn’t its only message. We also learn the time and temperature, the day and date. We learn that 1000 Liquors can supply all the liquor we might need for our parties, whether they be corporate, holiday, or bachelorette, or some combination. That the store is open daily until 4 a.m. Amid a light-show of ever-changing colors, of dazzling sunrises, of time-lapse peonies bursting into blossom, the sign projects some old-time beacons fanning a night sky before proclaiming: Welcome to Lakeview!
Well, here we are. A liquor store or bar on every corner? That once-lofty standard, held to throughout Chicago, is now in jeopardy, as many mom-and-pop establishments go under, squeezed out of a market where grocery stores, convenience stores, and big-box stores offer Goliathan competition.
Though I have never patronized 1000 Liquors, I would regret it if the owners were to close up shop, or if they were to fall behind on their electricity bill, which, given the wattage and constant activity of this sign, must be considerably higher than mine. What if the owners decided the sign wasn’t worth it, and turned it off? We would stare down into the street anyway, of course, without the inane “Good Morning” that almost makes it so.