Friday, November 17, 2017

Watching men watching men building buildings

Photo by Tina Sfondeles
    This was fun. Make sure you watch the video, posted on the Sun-Times web site. 

     Alex Griffiths works but doesn't get his hands dirty.
     The 40-year-old Brit has a job related to computers in the clean, abstract digital world at the 1871 high-tech business incubator at the Merchandise Mart.
     That, he said, partly explains why he paused on Orleans Street, just north of the Chicago River, one morning to gaze down into a construction pit and watch equipment digging up great mounds of mud.
     "It's fascinating to watch," said Griffiths. "This is something physical."
     Physical is the word. Six stories of basement parking being dug out of the muck at Wolf Point, the start of what will be a 60-story, $360 million tower. A big John Deere 350 excavator and a trio of smaller pieces of digging equipment look like a family of dinosaurs feeding at the edge of a swamp. Every minute or two another passerby stops to watch.
    "I think it's because we all wish we were driving one of those big backhoes," says a second man, who didn't want to be identified, a reminder that there is an element of idling to the observation of construction.
     "I don't want my kids to know I'm doing this at 9 a.m. on a Tuesday," he said, puffing on a cigar.
     "See how skilled they are," he said, gesturing toward what is, in essence, a bucket brigade with heavy equipment. "You go home at the end of the day, you've accomplished something."

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  1. Great fun. I love to play with machines, albeit much smaller ones than shown here and much less skillfully than described. But taking some thing apart and putting it back together so that it actually functions properly is an accomplishment that I treasure, especially as it happens so seldom for me.


  2. You do on occasion see women watching, not that there's anything wrong with that.

  3. Tina Sfondeles is almost right in saying that the men haven't outgrown their love of Tonka trucks. Closer to the truth is the fact that men's inherent fascination with machines manifests itself at an early age.

  4. I like her Tonka truck analogy. Being high above the recent additions near Wacker/Lake gave me that exact feeling.

  5. That steam shovel operator in the video is an artist.

  6. I spent countless hours tapping my toes when my son's were little, waiting for them to get tired of looking at a scoop shovel or dump truck. They never did, and it would always end with me pulling them away and them being displeased with their father. I could enjoy it for a while, but never as long as they wanted. I knew it was one of the best times of my life when it was happening and I wish there were such a thing as time travel to experience it again. Being exasperated at your sons when they are little and experiencing joy is the best kind of exasperation there is.

  7. Occasionally, instead of taking the Blue Line at Harlem into my boat tours, I take the Green Line at Harlem/South Blvd. Something's going up over a two block area there and I am mesmerized. On the tour, we can't linger, but here, we see it & dig it. Men & women digging huge holes, pouring concrete, personally carrying huge strands of re-bar, totally physical. Hard to imagine that someone thought of, designed & is now doing this. I think of Escher for some reason, but I totally get the Tonka Truck analogy.


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