Tuesday, October 16, 2012

16 October 2012, Day 133

The Uptown Pigeons

Uptown is one of the rougher patches on Chicago's north side, but also one of the most interesting. It's kind of the Norma Desmond of Chicago: filled with beautiful relics of a glamorous past, some now abandoned and deteriorating, others hanging on and continuing to survive in a state of tattered elegance; at the same time, it's just a wee bit homicidal. You could spend hours admiring the architecture of the Aragon Ballroom and the long-empty Uptown Theater, or listening to some fine jazz in the dim interior of the legendary Green Mill. On the other hand, one bright and sunny afternoon while i was waiting for a bus on the busy corner of Broadway and Wilson, a fistfight broke out on the other side of the street. People were literally rolling around on the sidewalk punching each other for about 10 minutes--or maybe longer; they were still going at it when my bus arrived. The fight didn't draw too much attention since it involved nothing more lethal than fists; sadly, more deadly forms of combat are not that unusual along here. 
But i like it; i like the tension between grit and gentrification, the dim stores that seem to have emerged from a 1940s' time-capsule, the pigeons. I don't know how long this huge flock of pigeons has been hanging out in Uptown, flying in giant loop-de-loops between Lawrence and Wilson Ave. I've been vaguely aware of them for a while, but it wasn't until late last month that i noticed just how many of them there are, swirling, dipping, diving, outlining the rooftop of the former Uptown (now Bridgeview) Bank, or just hanging out at the Wilson station, waiting for someone on the L to take their picture.

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