#834: Crescent Sky

August 25th, 2017

It was glorious to see so many care.

The IBM-turned-AMA building on the Chicago River, the blackest glassiest boxiest box of all the glassy black boxes of Chicago architecture, had poured out its workers.

All the buildings had, of course, but the American Medical Association headquarters building spewed most effectively onto its own plaza. Between Miesian glass and swishing brown river, the workers poured from River North and the Loop offices puddled.

They puddled to look-not-look at the sky.

The eclipse has been almost laboriously documented in that way the internet has of snapping onto a thought and worrying it like a hyena on a carcass. We know it happened. We know it was amazing in the path. We know it was still pretty cool where we saw it.

So this story isn’t of watching the sky, but of watching the people watching the sky. As they looked up through slate-black paper sunglasses or down into box-made pinhole cameras, we’ll look at them.

Here were the photographers, not so much staring at the eclipsing sun as trying to document that they did stare at it. They flipped through filters, glaring at their phones at juuuuuust the wrong shot. In desperation, some slapped their eclipse glasses over the cameras’ lenses, flicked fingers to zoom in in in, then glowered that the sun still was off afar.

Others were the photographers of each other. They glanced at the sky, glanced at themselves and then started the long and arduous process of making sure it would be documented forever that they looked at the sky on this day. Group shots of office teams. Individual shots of self against sky; checking, moving, wandering, wavering to ensure their selfie-turned phones didn’t block away the spectacle that they were ostensibly there to see.

Others socialized. I liked them. Some brought their dogs. I liked them more.

But a few stood stone-silent, entranced by the colossal dance in the heavens. No words, no chatter. No selfies, group shots or even dogs. Just people staring at the sky through thick-tinted glasses, finding silence and wonder in what they saw.

These were the ones I liked most.

Staring at the sky in darkness, five years earlier

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You are currently reading #834: Crescent Sky by Paul Dailing at 1,001 Chicago Afternoons.

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