Day 3 in Chicago: Songs, Skyscrapers, Shadows, Sunsets, 911

After a lovely four hours of sleep, I awoke and needed to do some packing. I am only in the hostel-ish place for the first three nights, then another nearby place for my final two Chicago nights. It is in the same area, but about a mile away. It’s also better served by a different “L” line, so I’m no longer Pink-54th/Cermak, I’m Orange-Midway. But to get from this place to the other, I took a bus. Yes, like I explained in the last post.

I arrived and had a nice chat with one of the hosts. They are a couple, with two cats – Ms. Kitty and Baracka. I have my own bedroom, A/C, printer, use of the fridge (and BBQ and cable TV if I choose). It’s very comfortable! I also love that there are lots of books around – she is an art history professor/Ph.D student and very knowledgable and interesting to discuss art with. Plus, it turns out they know one of the people in the comedy troupe I saw last night, and they have been there multiple times. Small world! Actually, small city.

Around noon, I was settled in and decided to head into the city. My two goals: See The Mowglis (a band I really like) and get up to the North Avenue Beach to photograph the sunset. Here is a preview of what’s to come: my smartphone battery lasted 11 hours today._DSC6612


I took the bus north and got off in Little Greece, or whatever it’s called. Maybe it’s Greektown. Not for food, but because I saw a cool view of the city from a particular bridge. But when I got off the bus I didn’t care for it as much, so then I just started walking toward the Sears Tower.  If I said I walked to the Willis Tower, would you have any clue what I meant? Because that’s the new name of the Sears Tower. So I searched for a lunch spot and came across Al’s Italian Beef. That is considered the best one in town and actually won the Food Network’s regional award for best sandwich. It’s a hoagie roll with finely chopped roast beef, and then you have to order it sweet or hot (giardiniera peppers), and wet or dry (dipped in au jus). I ordered a wet, hot beef. It is one of the best things I have ever tasted. I hope I can remember how it tasted 20 years from now.

Al's Italian Beef - wet/hot

Al’s Italian Beef – wet/hot

Afterwards, my walking back took me by the aforementioned tower and I just walked down streets until I reached Grant Park again. The Mowglis are an L.A. band…and I use this description a lot (I realize it), but they sounded like they could be from Olympia. They were opening for Neon Trees who I do not like. So, I watched the Mowglis, sang along, and danced…then found a quiet spot and called my friend Tara while the headlining band played in the distance. Afterward, I went toward the food, received copious sample-sized tubes of toothpaste from the Sensodyne booth (Steven, don’t bring any toothpaste!), and then decided how to spend the remaining 15 food tickets I purchased the other day. I saved one, used eight on empanadas from…an empanada restaurant, then used the remaining six on a small piece of disappointing cheesecake that had been sitting in the 85 degree air a little too long. I was told this is the first year the Taste of Chicago wasn’t during 4th of July week. Apparently, it didn’t do well financially the last couple years. I enjoyed it though!

Union Station - an imposing building on a quiet street.

Union Station – an imposing building on a quiet street.


Willis Tower #1

Willis Tower #1

Willis Tower #2

Willis Tower #2

The Mowglis

The Mowglis

I made my way past the Pritzker Pavillion, an outdoor amphitheater that has free concerts almost every night. Pritzker must have a lot of money, whoever he/she is. There are a lot of things in Chicago with that name.

Pritzker Pavilion's "roof"

Pritzker Pavilion’s “roof”

To get to the North Avenue Beach, I took the “L” north, missed the stop, got off, waiting for one going the other direction, and eventually disembarked where I was supposed to – in the Old City, near the Second City Theater and Lincoln Park. This is a cool neighborhood. So far, if I was going to live in Chicago, this is the area I’d choose. It’s probably expensive though. I walked by an enormous Starbucks (actually I went in), a prestigious looking private middle and high school, and it generally looked like a neighborhood where the things you need to live (like yoga studios, organic grocery stores, and coffee shops) are close by. I easily got to the beach and noticed that it extends out like a jetty, with the north side having sand and the south side having a breakwall with deep water right up to it. There were many beach volleyball games in progress – co-ed, everyone having fun, and the lights were on as the sky slowly darkened. I faced south, set up my tripod, and sat on the edge of the wall, legs hanging over, with my tripod set up beside me. I did several test shots for focus, lighting/shadow detail and exposure compensation, and then just enjoyed the setting.

Looking North

Looking North

Chicago Downtown After Sunset

Chicago Downtown After Sunset

———————————————————————————————————————————————————Afterwards I walked back to a bus line. Like I alluded to yesterday, the quickest way to get back to my residence from North Beach was about 55 minutes of walk/bus/walk/”L”/bus/walk. Well, eventually my bus came, and I sat very near the front. There were three little kids, a girl (10-ish) and two boys (maybe 7 and 4) sitting in the first three seats together. They looked…like they got all their clothes from a thrift store in Appalachia. There was a guy in the front seats across from them – shaved head, white, wearing flip-flops, and missing several teeth (in the Meth-mouth way). He was also muttering and constantly tensing his fists and acting like he wanted to punch something. The kids looked just like him, so I know they were together. What I didn’t mention is how he also spent my entire 20 minute bus ride muttering to the girl (in a voice that, at least, I could hear) about how he was going to “F her up when they got home,” how it was “all her fault because she wanted to go to the beach,” and how she needed to face forward, not look at anyone, “she [was going to see] what was going to happen to her when she got home,” and told her of his intent to beat her in other verbal ways. The whole time he looked out of it, in a druggie way, but he was giving her such hateful looks and she looked terrified. Another older guy was sitting near him but I think he was drunk and he just sat there with a smile on his face, unaware of anything. I was intently observing and deciding what to do. When a lady got on board and sat next to me, I heard the lady just past her inform her of what was happening. The guy was difficult to understand without all his teeth – there’s no way the younger kids could even understand him. I confirmed with the lady two spots over that she heard what I heard, and I got on my phone to look for a police tipline or something like that – I didn’t see any “To report a problem, call…” message posted anywhere in the bus. I told the ladies what I was goin to do, but was surprised no one else thought to do anything other than watch and be disgusted. I guess that’s the bystander effect in action. Well, maybe someone did-it’s not like they would announce it out loud. I found a number to text the Chicago PD to report “issues,” and did so, but didn’t receive a response. I didn’t know whether to expect one or not.

I remembered details, including the bus number, and also listened closely to the details of a cellphone conversation he was engaged in where he was telling someone he was lost. When I didn’t get a text message response after a couple minutes, I jumped off at the next stop and immediately called 911. I was able to give them the bus number, it’s route, where it was, what the guy said, full description, etc. The 911 operator said they were going to have the police intercept the bus a few stops down, so I hope it was OK. I did what I could. He was a scrawny-looking guy- I could have knocked him out with one punch, but that wouldn’t help the kids.

Note 1: There are police everywhere in downtown Chicago but it’s nice because they sort of blend in, don’t make a scene. But you know they’re there, so I trust they followed through somehow. There would have been several groups of cops in the neighborhood we were passing through.

Note 2: I would like to thank God right now, because before I even got on this bus, my phone was in “battery level critical – will shut down imminently” mode. It stayed on through the whole 911 call. Then when I ended the call, it wouldn’t turn on anymore.

Note 3: I got off the bus where I did because it needed to be done. I had been trying to get all the way back home before my 3-day pass expired. It also left me without knowing exactly where I was in relation to anything else, and without access to maps on my phone. But I located the “L” and found a map so I could see how to get back.

Note 4: Why did I do all this? Who can watch a child being treated like that and ignore it? Also this:

(1)(a) When any practitioner, …, law enforcement officer, professional school personnel, registered or licensed nurse, social service counselor, psychologist, pharmacist, employee of the department of early learning, licensed or certified child care providers or their employees, juvenile probation officer, or state family and children’s ombudsman or any volunteer in the ombudsman’s office has reasonable cause to believe that a child has suffered abuse or neglect, he or she shall report such incident, or cause a report to be made, to the proper law enforcement agency or to the department as provided in RCW 26.44.040

I hope it worked out. I wonder if anyone else on the bus did anything productive or if they just watched in disgust.


2 thoughts on “Day 3 in Chicago: Songs, Skyscrapers, Shadows, Sunsets, 911

  1. This was a great thing you did Bobby. So glad you were able to make the call as you
    did to 911. That is so scary to see little people so abused like that.

  2. What a great view of the Chicago skyline. Thank you for referring to the building as the Sears tower– there’s no way I would’ve known what you were talking about otherwise.
    I like what you’re doing with the pictures: rounded corners. It’s different & good!
    Thank you for doing the right thing Bobby, by calling 911. I really hope they acted on your tip and intercepted & confronted that person. At least your conscience should be at rest for not sitting back and being yet another observer. You might have just saved a life, who knows!

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