The Streets are Not the Same I

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Madison (2006). Oil on Canvas. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso

Back then, when people stowed themselves in the Loop all day for work, there was a salon on the corner here where the lawyers used to come for pedicures. They would sit right in the window, and their pants, hiked up to the knee, exposed pale calves that glowed in the refracted light of the sun. Around the corner, under the tracks, the environment was entirely different – ten degrees colder under the shade of the El, dirty, grimy, and malodorous. The homeless sought refuge from the light and heat there, and the alleys collected their detritus. Before the pandemic years, before the government gave them pod homes, they slept out there in the mess. It may seem that a city would wish to disown those times, but rather, it seems to make a concerted effort to retain some of the look of the past, in a sanitized, Disneyland manner. Old light posts and metal beams are refurnished and installed along the street, faux-finished with rusty hue around the rivets. Dignified brass name plates decorate the stone facades, honoring firms once housed within. Their offices are entertainment spaces now, as there is no longer any reason for most workers to labor outside of their homes. The parade once visible several times a day here is diminished to a meandering gathering, without haste mostly, of gawkers. It is clean enough now on Madison to wear your best clothes and saunter about all day, like an Astaire flick from a century and a half ago. Doesn’t even have to be Easter – remember that holiday? Progress.

 

Danny Grosso

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