Thursday, August 7, 2008

Last Will, A Testament

There are certain elevated stops where the platforms stretch far away from the steps and the overhead metal roofs. There are times that I'll sit at one facing east and catch twenty minutes of sun and lake breeze. You can also find some decent views as you walk past obstructions below you, such as the stairwell or awnings of jewelry stores. You can be a voyeur and look at women in summer outfits or a family of tourists--but, realistically, you can do that at street level--but from above, you can see mannerisms without hearing the conversation that goes with them, or guess on the destinations of the only guy on Wabash wearing a fedora or a group of young people just leaving Ada's, which has a gigantic John Belushi figure just inside the revolving doors. In the first photo, I'm at Wabash and Madison, the stretch that gets me home. One more stop at Adams and I'm out of the Loop. This block of buildings once housed a huge Kroch's & Brentano's, back before Borders killed off all our bookstores. Ivan Reis was a cigar dealer in this little, tiny walk-up from the first floor of a nameless building. The Maller Building is out of view to the left, but it housed dozens of small jewelry shops and one winter a propane gas tank blew in a vacant office and caused confusion because no one knew emergency exits or which windows led to the fire escapes. My credo has always been "Know Your Exits & Prepare For Impact." So they gut the buildings and keep the storefront to make them look quaint, only shove a Starbucks or Jhamba Juice through the doorways that once held books or gems. Within months you can see the back end demolition, as with my second photo, and a thirty-story high rise will then block the view of the lake, Millennium Park, or the damned twenty-story building behind the new monstrosity. I took the photo of the Ivan Reis joint because I was fascinated by the lone guy sitting at the table. Architect eating lunch? A custodian? If it was me, I'd be jotting down a last will, a testament to the building that will be gone before summer's end, even though the shell will be there to mock me...Wayne