They say that Chicago has two seasons, winter and construction. Lately those two seasons have been running together, with buildings going up all winter long. More
The Brown Line snakes through River North toward the Merchandise Mart on a frigid day. The temperature is lifting toward zero in a city snoozier than usual, one just beginning to stir after a paralyzing storm.
The backside of buildings opposite the Mart comes into view as the train snakes along. Snow outlines their fire-escapes, a perilous set of spiral stairs, garbage waiting to be collected by crews that, because of the weather, probably won’t arrive. The normally bright windows of the design lofts are dark, their workers safe at home on a dangerously cold day.
A midget compared to the other buildings, the Shamrock Club is at the center of the scene. In the perpetual shadow of the Mart, the dive bar asserts its presence professionally, its red doors cheery, its sign channeling some deep strain of Chicago history.
Given its tiny capacity, one may need the luck of the Irish to get a seat at the bar. For the Shamrock has many denizens. According to Time Out Chicago, “Strangers are regarded with suspicion here, so stay away from the regulars until you become one yourself.”
The after-lunch crowd from Kinzie Chophouse returning to work at the Merchandise Mart. The skinny suit is in, a refreshing look for men.
Despite levels of taxation that have driven out many car dealerships, small businesses, and gas stations, the Erie-LaSalle Body Shop has managed to hang on, its signage exuding composure and pride.
Three poles carrying a bit of everything communicate with a neighboring wall. Much care has gone in to maintaining all these wires and the wall, with its band of red and conscientious tuckpointing.
Two days in Minneapolis, and Celia is homesick for her city. Besides missing her husband, she misses Chicago itself, its density, its heights, its deafening el. The sights seen from the Brown Line on a beautiful day. She’ll be happy to be home at the end of the day.
We were at the Mart shopping for a kitchen sink when I noticed that the showroom we were in had a marvelous view.
We continued looking at sinks. I looked up, and suddenly the sky looked like this:
Five minutes later.
As I watched, I saw the train that I take to work running through River North.
That was the most exciting part, I think.
Click on images to greatly enlarge.
Thank you, readers, for all your visits, and for taking the time that you do to comment.
Hearing from you has made the month of May fun and interesting. I appreciate your contributions.
Every once in a while, Celia enjoys a good French meal. At Kiki’s the proprietor practices an old-school approach to product placement, his hook being a red vintage Citroën.
The el speeds past an indifferent landscape, much of it devoid of association or meaning. Yet embedded in the landscape is a memory, like a tiny glimmer of quartz in all those dull rocks that lie on the beach, waiting to be picked up and looked at more closely. In this case, the memory is of a hot summer night at the restaurant MK: happily threading through the crowds thronged and waiting for tables, ascending with my guy to a choice table in the loft, dressed in a bright yellow silk blouse and a white pencil skirt.
This photograph has been given a diffusion glow.