Where was Bono? U2 is in town this weekend to play two concerts at Solider Field. Somewhere around 50,000 people attended each show. Assuming an average ticket price of $100, that amounts to a $10.0 million in gross ticket sales before merchandise revenue and U2's cut of the beverage and food sales. Yet, Bono couldn't take an hour out of his schedule to make a few remarks to the crowd gathered in Federal Plaza under Alexander Calder's Flamingo. Imagine what his appearance would have meant in terms of boosting everyone's spirits. To paraphrase Aristotle, "The time to give back is when no one is looking."
Today's crowd was certainly better than the microscopic "crowd" at the last demonstration I attended in Chicago. The Chicago Tribune initially estimated the size at 400 or so, but I would put it at between 1,500 and 2,000. No matter its size, today's crowd skewed old, like the typical audiences for opera, theatre, and jazz, which strikes me as a potential problem in 2018 and 2020.
The March for Truth started with speeches at 11:00AM. At that point, 400 to 500 would have been a reasonable estimate, but after 45 minutes or so, the crowd had greatly swollen. By 11:30AM the cloud cover broke, resulting in sunny skies and shadows for the actual march.
Speakers included three Illinois members of Congress: Robin Kelly (Second District), Mike Quigley (Fifth District), and Jan Schakowsky (Ninth District). Also making appearances were Jill Wine-Banks, a former Watergate prosecutor, Amara Enyia, a former candidate for Chicago Mayor, and Colleen K. Connell, executive director of the ACLU of Illinois.
As is typical with marches starting in Federal Plaza, the route went north on Dearborn to Wacker, and then east along Wacker's westbound traffic lane, stopping across the Chicago River from Trump Tower. No police boat was visible when I peered over the stone wall above the River Walk.
As usual, the police erected barricades to block access to the bridge leading over the Chicago River at Wabash. Typically, the police post barricades at all access points to the Trump Tower. As I subsequently discovered, the barricades at the Wrigley Building passageway were manned, but the police were not stopping people walking west toward Trump Tower. None of the people I saw looked like demonstrators--no signs.
By my estimate, a huge percentage of the crowds was gone within a half hour of arriving at the Wacker/Wabash march terminus, which is unusual in terms of prior marches. People tend to mill about.
I continue to contend that these demonstrations are largely ineffective, although they make people feel good. Same speakers, same route, same chants, and largely the same signs, although today the term "Covfefe" entered the sign lexicon. What I find particularly irksome is Friday's demonstration protesting President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris Accords. I did not see it on the any web sites listing Chicago demonstrations, probably because it was hastily organized following President Trump's Rose Garden reveal Thursday afternoon. Wouldn't it have made sense to combine that demonstration with the March for Truth?
I posed my question about Bono somewhat factiously. Yet, unless march organizers get more celebrities involved at satellite demonstrations across the country and utilize some guerrilla theatre, people will lose interest. Where have Jeff Tweedy, Mavis Staples, Billy Corgan, Senator Dick Durbin, Mayor Rahm Emanuel, and other noteworthy Chicagoans been?
I did learn one interesting fact today: The organization behind the march raised $10,000 to cover the costs, according to its spokesperson. I assume this covers stage, souped system, and tent rentals, and other direct costs, which might include insurance. I wonder whether the City requires the organization to post bond, cover security costs, or cleanup costs.
So why do I continue to return? I have a project on Trump, the demonstrations, and related matters. I am interested in images, so a demonstration with 400 or 1,500 people serves my purposes, but I must admit, I am getting a little bored. Next up for me is the Watergate Hotel--architecture and politics.
Photographically, I used a different kit today--my Fuji GFX 50s and a Lecia M. I used the Leica for wide angle shots, and the Fuji for close ups. Both were particularly slow in writing to the SD cards, and the Fuji had difficulty locking focus. For the first time, I used face recognition, which may explain the issue. I won't make that mistake again. One or the other, with either my Olympus Mark II or my Sony R3dii.
And I managed to miss photo opportunities as the march proceeded up Dearborn. I had done that gig before, so I was interested in a different take. Elevated, to be exact. Unfortunately, the access to the second floor in McDonald's was closed, as was access to skywalk just north of the El on Lake Street. I looked at one elevated building plaza, but unfortunately a city crew was changing streetlight bulbs, blocking the view of the parade route. You win some some, and you lose some.
Click on a photograph to enlarge it.
The March Organizer and Route
Congress (Representatives Quigley and Schakowsky) Gets Down By Shaking Its Booty
"Denying the Truth Doesn't Change the Facts"
Congresswoman Rep. Jan Schakowsky Speaks to the Crowd. Not Pictured, Her Two Dogs, Franklin and Eleanor
"Fuck Paul Ryan," Is a Nice Sentiment, But Children Were Present
One Attendee Dancing to the Music
The Crowd Listens to a Speaker
Amara Enyia, Public Policy Expert and Former Mayoral Candidate, Briefly Reflects Before Continuing to Inspire the Crowd
For the Reading Pleasure of the Demonstrators
My Neighbor, Angelo Kokkino, One of the Great Progressives of All Time
Congressman Mike Quigley, My Representative, In a Thoughtful Moment
Former Watergate Prosecutor Jill Wine-Banks, as Seen on MSNBC
The Demonstrators at the Corner of Wacker and Wabash
A Demonstrator Suggests Four New Letters and a Space