I really love Chicago in the summertime. We spend a great part of the year hunkered inside waiting for the sun to come back. And when it does, as a city, we make the most of it.
Earlier this week, I finished up the days editing and stepped outside into the warm West Loop summer evening with my friend Katrina. A beautiful night. I noticed the streets were closed off to traffic and lots of arty and otherwise fashionable types were heading towards the end of the block.
As I got nearer, I saw a DJ booth set up on the corner of Fulton Market and Aberdeen. Blasting from the speakers at full summer outside volume appropriateness was Misty Mountain Hop by Led Zeppelin. Nice.
Here’s a link to listen along as you read this. You know, for atmosphere. I give you permission to turn it up to an outside appropriate level.
Even better, as I approached, I could see that DJ Leslie Stiles was not only a fan of Zeppelin, but of vinyl as well. Seriously, when was the last time I listened to Zeppelin on vinyl? The 80s? I had to snap a few iPhone photos.
Thank you Leslie for providing some sweet mood grooves. Literally grooves. On vinyl, right?!
Anyway, the reason for the full volume Zep was the 9th Annual Guerrilla Truck Show. It’s part of the Neocon International Trade Show that happens in Chicago this time of year. Let me explain. The main show happens at the Merchandise Mart, located a little less than a mile East of the West Loop, which obviously would make that, The Loop for the directionally challenged.
But in a sort of Off-Broadway or Slam Dance sense, the Guerilla Truck Show is just that. 60 U-Haul and other assorted rental trucks parked along the loading docks of the various food factories along Fulton Market. Inside the trucks, artisans have set up temporary mini galleries of art, furniture and other creativity.
It’s really the only neighborhood in Chicago that could pull this off. That’s why my studio is here as well as where I freelance at a variety of local West Loop design and editing houses. I like to say, it’s as close to New York as Chicago gets.
Walking home at 3am, I’ve very nearly been run over by the forklifts that begin weaving in and out of the streets around that time carrying giant pallets of meat, fish and vegetables like mechanical insane whirling dervishes.
Later in the morning, the area takes on a more creative flavor as artists of all kinds head to work, coffee in hand, in the converted loft spaces that seem to grow in quantity every month. They’re in the process of converting the 100-year-old Fulton Market Cold Storage Building, which will certainly attract even more. It has been christened with a new hipster address- 1K Fulton. The West Loop is fast becoming the center of Chicago’s creative universe.
But back to the truck show at present. There’s nothing better than a gathering of artists in the open air creating temporary showrooms for what they do. That they’ve done it in the back of dozens of trucks only adds to the vibe.
Ah, Chicago. You do know how to come out and play when the weather decides to get reasonable.