I usually am the first one to complain about Chicago's January temperatures, which often dip into the low digits, and with the wind chill, sometimes below zero. I've never been a winter enthusiast, and have tended to associate the period from early December through early March with shoveling snow, frozen extremities, and wearing enough clothing to keep two people warm, or put another way, wearing an extra person on my back. After I started teaching in Chicago, I had to redefine my sense of "frozen" upwards (or downwards, in terms of climate). St. Louis had cold winters and some snow; Boston actually got blizzards galore; Virginia suffered ice storms that shut everything down, and I mean everything; and New York and New Jersey have had winters that would make you want to hibernate. But Chicago is by far the coldest place--or was the coldest place--I'd ever lived. Usually right after Christmas, and especially if C and I've taken a trip somewhere tropical, I begin preparing myself for the coming freeze, because while multiple layers of woolens and a car really do go far, there still is little to psych you up for a windy, wintry -5F blast barreling off Lake Michigan, even if lasts no longer than the short trip between one building and another. This year, however, all indications pointed to an unseasonably warm winter not only on the Eastern seaboard but also in many parts of the Midwest, and so far, it's turned out to be just that here. While the thermometer didn't reach 70F this Saturday, as it did in parts of New York and New Jersey, it was noticeably mild and around 50F or so. I attributed the lack of higher temperatures to the haze, like a gigantic tarpaulin, that stretched grayly above the horizon. When I put on my parka on Saturday night, mainly as armor for the wait on the El platform as I was headinng to catch a movie, I realized I could have gotten away with a fall jacket. It was chilly, but not really cold. A brotha on the platform wanted to chat, and remarked about the weather. He said he'd run out of the house in only a hoodie and was worried that he'd been freezing, but he felt fine. "But I see you're bundled up, and as my mother always said, this is flu weather," he pointed out to me, and I nodded, because I'd always heard that too. I snapped a few pictures, which I'm posting below, but I think my exhalations barely condensed. By the time I got out of the movie, around midnight, it was still not too cold, and if it weren't so late and the distance to the theater so formidable, I'd have considered walking half the way back.
A nail shop on Diversey
El car window reflection
Interior of a bar on Ravenswood (shot surreptiously through the front window)
An alleyway, Rogers Park
The other day, in the comment section, Bernie wrote in to note that his gregarious and pugnacious Congressman, Charlie Rangel, whom C and I once met on the street in Manhattan ("Where's the barbecue?" was one of his unforgettable lines), is set to become the first Black Chairperson of the Ways and Means Committee. Tomorrow's NY Times has an article by Robin Toner, titled "After Many Years, It's Rangel's Turn at the Helm," on the 76-year-old legislator's ascension, which he's been awaiting for some time. He doesn't take much BS, so he'll be one of the many correctives to the proto-fascist claque that occupies the big white house on Pennsylvania Avenue. Do you think visions of tax rollbacks and income indexes, wrapped up in sugarplums, are dancing through his dreams?