Living in the South Loop for almost 21 years, I generally have no trouble understanding my neighborhood. But lately, a few things have happened I don't understand.
Is it Tiny Dancer's influence on our South Loop culture? (Because he sure doesn't make any sense.) Or is it me? Or are inexplicably weird things happening in the neighborhood? Like these:
1) First on the list has to be the pink bunny slippers that landed on all 212 feet on the Agora legs sculpture in the southwest corner of Grant Park at Roosevelt and Michigan around Mother's Day. Which stayed on for a couple of weeks. Knitted by a national knitting group--35 knitters from 15 states used 250 pounds of yarn over 2000 hours--the knitters spent a lot of everything on this silly project. And for what?
They were making the big legs more comfortable, they said, giving them a "rest." Really? If you ask me, they would have spent their Mother's Day time and money and energy a lot more sensibly by knitting baby blankets and booties for poor children. Why slippers for an inanimate legs sculpture? Added warmth for poor children seems a lot more sensible to me.
2) How come everyone I know in the neighborhood turns up their nose at milkweed? Not only is it free, native, hearty, sweet-smelling and provider of a home for migrating butterflies--not to mention food for their offspring along the way--the Chicago Tribune says here that Cook County officials are currently passing milkweed out and begging people to plant it for the Monarchs, whose numbers have been down, down, down in recent years. Perhaps as a result of everyone hating milkweed.
What's the deal, South Loop? Weeds are an arbitrary classification. Plant some milkweed. Attract some butterflies.
I have a front yard full of it myself. And I never planted one. They just grew. If you're good to your "weeds," they'll be good to you.
3) I couldn't believe that our in-water boat show at the 31st Street harbor was cancelled. And although we are getting our usual boat show at McCormick Place in January, it's going to combine the usual power boats with sailboats--which previously had their own show at Navy Pier.
What? Not enough lake out there for you, Chicago, to maintain three totally unique boat shows? Or not enough South Loopers and their friends and relatives willing to patronize them?
4) With all the big sporting events in the South Loop--the NFL thing on Congress and Michigan; the DEW TOUR of skateboards and BMX at Roosevelt and Michigan in the new skateboard park--how come our local businesses don't seem to be getting extra business during same? Not that that's so terrible for us residents. It's always nice to still be able to get a seat in one of our local restaurants even though people from around the world have alighted in the 'hood to partake of the football draft and such.
It just seems to me as I walk the streets during these events that the participants go into the Loop proper to eat and drink. Or go home.
I hope our new Aurelio's at Roosevelt and Michigan gets the business it wants and deserves after Bears' games at Soldier Field this Fall.
Right now, the only sporting event that seems to attract people and keep them in the heart of the South Loop is when the Stanley Cup visits The Scout at 13th and Wabash. And that a successful business does not make. Although The Scout does pretty well even when the Cup isn't visiting.
5) Why don't people take advantage of a very pleasant perk that I found out about during my spring planting weekend several weeks ago? Walking home with your stuff in a Home Depot "grocery" cart. As long as you bring it back.
It all started when I realized in mid-May that both Jewel and Ace Hardware--both easily walkable from my house at Roosevelt and State--weren't getting the abundance of annuals that they usually do.
Frantic one night about 9 PM, I called Home Depot at Roosevelt and Clinton to place an order for 10 flats of what I wanted. I told them to pack them up (figuring five flats in a huge bag, one for each arm) and I would walk over momentarily to pick them up. (Actually, getting the right person on the phone to do this was not exactly easy, but I finally did.)
In any case, when I got there, the flats weren't packed because the guy I talked to thought they would be too unwieldy to carry. But they were nicely packed in a grocery cart, and the salesman offered to let me roll it home--as long as I brought it back.
"But you'll be closed by then," I said.
"That's OK," he said. "Just leave it in front of the door."
Which is what I did. Up and back and up and back was three miles all together--which was a good constitutional on a nice Spring night.
And by the way, when I got back, not only was the store closed--but every plant for sale was outside in front. There for the taking. If I were a dishonest person, I could have used that cart all night, gone back and forth and cleaned them out.
Don't get any ideas.
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