Air and Water ShOWWWWW! Vol. 2 Invasion By Sea


Flashing montage of spectral voices describing everything that is wrong with an air and water show. Flashy waste of military funds. Mass hypnosis with the machines of war acting like circus animals. Images of me cringing in my apartment everytime a jet screams by. Stereo knobs being turned up. Time lapse clouds and thunder storms. Me giving puppy dog looks out the window at the crappy weather like the boy trapped inside practicing the violin while his peers run wild in the streets.

Shot opens on a sunny day, my friend Charles and I bicycling slowly on the lakefront path.

Charles is new to biking, and I am repressing my usual speed to let him set a comfortable pace for himself. I had never taken the time to enjoy a leisurely ride. I get on my bike and zoom. I'm off. This was pleasant. It was a pretty day. The breeze was mild, the sun was out.

And so were the crowds. By the time we hit the contruction before North Avenue Beach, the memory of the scheduled events came back to me. Families wlking four abreast on the path, dragging coolers. Children erratically cutting in front of our bikes. Other cyclists and joggers miffed at the ruining of their pace.

So we slowed down, and crept through. This was fine. Serenity still in place. Occassionally, we slowed too much to maintain balance. We then set foor to ground and walked our bikes, taking advantage of any opportunity to begin peddling again. If man were meant to walk, God wouldn't have given us bicycles!

As we crawled through the loose masses congregating on North Avenue Beach, the loud speakers were proclaiming some marvel of water skiing occurring off the shore. When I could, I stole glances out to sea (lake?).

I have always wanted to water ski. Never have, and probably never will. Still, this sport fascinates me. I have no idea why. I picture myself hanging on for dear life, somewhere between the vintage sports commercials and a Go-Gos video. Only a lot less pretty.

As I steal glances eastward, simultaneously stopping and starting my bike to avoid crushing small children and scraping the heels of the more procreative members of our society, all I see out in the water is a couple of boats here and there. They are all far enough out to really be matchbox car size.

All you could see were small (perspective) boats zooming this way and that. If this was to be a water show as advertised, there wasn't much show going on. I could barely see anything going on. Silhouetted against the morning sun, the boats were small grey blobs moving about far enough off shore to be completely featureless. If there was a water skiing exhibition going on, the skiers either too far off to be recognizably independent of the boats and the horizon, or they were so bad as to not stay up long enough to exhibit any admirable water skiing prowess.

Tommy Bartlett's this was not. I remember as a kid being mesmerized by the water show at the Wisconsin Dells. The bleacher seats close enough to the shore to see the action. Skiiers flying off ramps and racing around the river on one foot.

Here, on the shores of Lake Michigan...nothing. Just droves of spectators spectating at nothing.

Surprisingly, Charles and I made it downtown in decent time, depsite the slow going. Strange, the day was still quite lovely.

So far...

Air and Water ShOWWWWW! Vol. 1 Invasion By Air

So...a string of events.

A little over a week ago saw the 50th Chicago Air and Water Show, or some other anniversary of long running boredom.

I don't get it! Really! Someone please explain. Please?!

Aside from being a celebration of our outdated military industry used for crowd pleasing spectacle, a la fireworks, it has to be one of the most annoying and boring civic events.

Maybe the worst part of it is that you cannot escape it. Chicago is a large town. It's huge. Still, for three days prior to the "event," the jets were "practicing" their stunts. This pretty much translated into scremaing across the Chicago airspace. You could not excape. I live on the far north side of town, but even inside my apartment, you could hear the jets scraping across the sky, over and over again.

Some things you can choose whether or not you want to go. Every event obviously has some appeal to someone, or it wouldn't be held. However, if you did not want to go to, say, the Taste of Chicago (a large annual feeding frenzy downtown), you can simply not go. It's not like the event also flings polish sausages to farthest reaches of the city. Not interested in attending a Bear's game or a Cub's game? Don't go. Movie is the Park? Stay home.

Air and Water Show? Move.

Even sitting in my apartment, with the windows closed, the TV and the stereo turned up, the SSSKRKRKKRRRRRREEEEUEUUUEUUUUUUWWWW of the jets flying by overpowered all.

So, regardless of my desire not to participate in the spectacle of planes flying around, I am trying out this new plan called "Participating in Life."

Now for some reason, this summer has been exceptionally cool. It's like October in San Francisco. For many, that translates into "lovely." For me, that means, friggin' cold. The whole previous week it had been rainy, overcast adn rarely above 70 degrees.

Since I was too much of a wuss to go out on my bike much, I sat around eating and entertaining fantasies of the air and water show getting rained out. What better way to have an Air and Water Show than with large volumes of water falling from the sky?

Needless to say, the weekend weather was beautiful.

On Sunday, my friend Charles called me up to go on a bike ride to meet up with some folks downtown.

I am constantly amazed at my lack of short term memory. Bike Ride Downtown + Large Groups of People Watching the Air and Water Show = HELL. Either I could not remember that this was going on, the above displayed skills at arithmetic were in remission, or I was in absolute denial that people would want to turn out to watch planes and boats do what they do best.

Charles and I set out on our bikes south along the lakefront trail at 9am.