Lake Shore Drive. It’s my street. It’s my beat. I’m the new kid on the block. The new kid with the Seeing Eye dog. We explore our turf, venture a little farther afield each day. We surf the sidewalk up Belmont to Broadway, then down Diversey ‘til we hear the hum of the Drive, which we use, like sailors use the North Star, to get our bearings.
LSD is on the move, coursing through this City of the Big Shoulders. It’s in our bloodstream, flowing into Route 66, that two-thousand-mile motorway that winds from Chicago to L. A. Convertibles, fins and fender skirts, sunshine and Ray-Bans. see the USA in your Chevrolet. On Lake Shore Drive, you see shoreline and skyline. On Route 66, you get your kicks.
These visuals, these Kodachrome roadside attractions, attest to my imagination of life where the action is, or was. Today, from my catbird seat on floor 34, LSD drones, rumbles and, occasionally, wails. It’s a hissing snake when it rains, a muffled sigh when it snows. It vanishes in the fog. It bears two rush hours each weekday and yields to bicycles one day per year. Day or night, rain or shine, it keeps rolling, keeps humming.
That is, until the blizzard of ’67 or ’79 or Groundhog Day, 2011, when the Drive shifted into Park, when White noise became a whiteout. Nine hundred vehicles abandoned. The #147 Outer Drive Express bus marooned in a snowdrift. Drivers stranded in their cars. National Guard rescue vehicles, silent as cats, prowled side streets. That was then. Now, it’s again the time of the season for a big snow. I’m ready. My vantage point from floor 34 implies omnipotence, implores intervention to save lost souls. From this height, and given eyesight, I could pick up stragglers with tweezers and lift them to my lair, above it all.
While others sense Lake Shore Drive as it zooms past between white lines, I don’t drive the Drive, Bike the Drive or walk the Drive. And when I scan LSD, I see neither the immovable object nor the irresistible forces acting upon it. Yet, I am humbled to be a tiny part of perpetual motion and the aerodynamic flow of energy. At street level, LSD is my audible reference point, my backdrop for navigating my new neighborhood. Up here on floor 34, listening at my open window, LSD gives me a sense of place, my place as a small figure in the big picture.
* Carl Sandberg, in his 1914 poem, “Chicago,” coined the phrase, “city of the big shoulders.”
*The song, “(Get Your Kicks on) Route 66,” was written by Bobby Troup in 1946. Artists as diverse as Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby and the Rolling Stones have covered it.