Posts Tagged "Lake Michigan"


I gotta feel the wind chill again before I get old

At long last, here is the final batch of photos from my long and drawn-out North Beach series. But I may never see Lake Michigan again, and taking photographs is a good way to back up your mind’s eye.

edge of pier I gotta feel the wind chill again before I get old

barbed wire fence flower on beach I gotta feel the wind chill again before I get old

The amount of random shit you find on a beach is astounding. Well, “random” might not be the best word… considering the vast majority of the litter is alcohol containers. And when you think about it, this abandoned corsage probably isn’t all that random either. These photos were taken in September, so it could very well be some of the wreckage left behind by some post-Homecoming-dance carousing. Which certainly would explain all the bottles of Smirnoff Ice.

rippling water I gotta feel the wind chill again before I get old

Speaking of astounding — water. As usual. Astounding that the same water that existed on the earth millions of years ago is the water we’re drinking today. Astounding that much of the universe’s water was produced as a byproduct of star formation, and by logical conclusion, that means that we’re made up of star shit. And astounding how some bloodless executive at a soft drink company board meeting figured out they can make obscene profits from soda without any of the flavor or carbonation, indeed, from the same substance that covers over 70% of the entire planet: water.

volley ball net post lake shore drive I gotta feel the wind chill again before I get old


Ebb and flow

If you’re any kind of self-respecting human being, you love water. I love water so much, somebody once asked me, “If you love water so much, why don’t you marry it?” But I told them that relationship would be at least 35% incestuous, since all humans bodies are about 60% water. I may love me some H20, but… but let’s not get crazy.

waves1 Ebb and flow

waves2 Ebb and flow

floating driftwood Ebb and flow

waves3 Ebb and flow

waves4 Ebb and flow

waves5 Ebb and flow

And speaking of water, I’m trying to keep my head above it — back to work icon sad Ebb and flow


Northern Exposure

As promised (or perhaps threatened), and in continuing celebration of this ridiculously cold season, here are more wintry photos from Chicago’s North Beach.

Sometimes getting a nice shot has less to do with actual skill or experience, and considerably more to do with sheer luck and how quickly you can click the shutter. For example…

seagull over north beach Northern Exposure

lighthouse on pier bacardi bottle on beach Northern Exposure

In warmer months, North Beach is one of the Windy City’s preeminent illegal public drinking spaces. Although, if you said it was peerless, people might get confused icon cool Northern Exposure

tangled cables on pier Northern Exposure

Speaking of peers, sort of… I’m not entirely sure what the story is behind these cables, but they seem to form in a grid within the entire pier — I imagine to strengthen the concrete and keep it from gradually crumbling into the lake. Somehow I think these ones aren’t quite doing their job.

north beach pilings Northern Exposure

keystone light on seaweed Northern Exposure

Mmm-hmm! Just look at that product placement. Advertisers, what are you waiting for? There’s another eager corporate shill right here, waiting for your loving arms.


Movin' to the country, gonna eat a lot of beaches

Back when I lived in Chicago, I’d often pass North Beach on the highway between downtown and my neighborhood, which was farther north. That seemingly endless row of scattered pilings always caught my eye. Due almost entirely to laziness, despite my constant intentions, in two years I never made it down there to take pictures. So finally, with the moving van’s proverbial gun to my head, I paid North Beach a visit.

tipped over lifeguard chair Movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of beaches

The beach’s proximity to downtown Chicago makes it a complete frenzy in the summer, but that’s only about 5% of the year there, and the rest of the time it looks sad and desolate — just how I like it.

fruit smoothies shack chair in trees Movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of beaches

Sure, those pilings photograph well, but they’re actually there to keep the lake from consuming the beach — a body of water the size of Lake Michigan has a big appetite. There is a strip of sheet steel running between the pilings under the water, which, aside from making swimming there extra deadly, also keeps all the sand from being washed out into the lake.

wires wrapped around pole Movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of beaches

North Beach is huge — I underestimated its size when accounting for time and found myself rushing against the waning daylight to see everything. Nonetheless, I managed to take somewhere around a billion pictures before the light and the cold won out.

north beach Movin to the country, gonna eat a lot of beaches

So, needless to say, there’s more where that came from.


Life's a beach

Considering my new apartment is more of a dungeon than a castle in the sky, and the fact that the bite of autumn is starting to gnaw at my chilled extremities, I find myself a bit nostalgic for warmer, sunnier days at my almost beachfront property in Chicago.

seagulls and memorial on a concrete beach Lifes a beach

four beers on the beach Lifes a beach

Now, don’t get me wrong here — New York is great for very many things (namely getting into trouble), but feeling at peace with nature is definitely not one of them. Lake Michigan beats the East River, but it could have been a close fight back when the Brooklyn Bridge had a waterfall attached to it.


Extendable jaws

A couple weeks ago, the beach was a fucking dragonfly mating ground. Now, I don’t know what happens to all the newborn dragonfly babies when the dog days of summer turn into legitimate fall temperatures in about five seconds flat like they have here in Chicago. To be honest, worrying about their continued survival is probably not going to be keeping me up at night. Them shits is kinda gross, especially when they be all humping each other and shit.

dragonflies clouds Extendable jaws

Yeah, sure, they eat flies and bees so that’s cool I guess, but back to that “gross” thing…

Most of a dragonfly’s life is spent in the nymph form, beneath the water’s surface, using extendable jaws to catch other invertebrates or even vertebrates such as tadpoles and fish. They breathe through gills in their rectum, and can rapidly propel themselves by suddenly expelling water through the anus.

Fart propulsion. Dragonflies are the most immature of the insects, of this I am sure. They’re also incredibly difficult to get a good photo of when they’re flying all around your head — looking for a good place to lay their eggs, no doubt.

graffiti on beach Extendable jaws

flowers tomatoes mcdonalds sunset Extendable jaws

Random last photo, I know, but I needed one more vertical shot with similar colors and hey, who doesn’t love those golden arches, amiright? I mean, besides people who dislike heart disease and colon cancer, but they’re fucking dweebs!


No splash?

There are few things I require to be happy with my living situation. They are, in order, a western view of the sky for optimal sunset-gazing, proximity to a major body of water for purposes of disposing the bodies, a nearby area of smooth pavement for convenient flatground skating, little alcoves with ice dispensers like they have in hotels on every floor of the apartment building just ’cause those things are more fun than getting ice from your own refrigerator, a pool on the roof next to a helicopter pad, and a helicopter to land on the helicopter pad.

Right now I’ve got the top three, so things aren’t too bad. And Lake Michigan is a much nicer place to be close to when the temperature is consistently above freezing.

close up bottle No splash?

It sure is beautiful now… but just wait for the tar balls to start showing up.

waves splash end of pier No splash?

long pier waves breaking No splash?

I don’t have a clue what these “frames” are for. They’re scattered all over the concrete beach surrounding Lake Michigan. Maybe it’s just some preemptive earthquake safety measure. Not that Chicago is a hot bed of tectonic activity, but if it were, we’d be set. It pays to think ahead. “Welcome to Chicago: there’s always a doorway to cower under nearby” … I like it, it has a welcoming kind of vibe to it.

close up ripples No splash?

no diving sign lock No splash?

People still jump off the pier, anyway. Which I guess is safer than going head first, but it’s not like getting a jagged rock up your ass crack is exactly a preferable scenario. Personally, I just don’t think people are scared enough by rocks. Maybe like, “submerged lasers” or “submerged giant man-eating venus fly traps” would be more effective. Just throwing suggestions out there, that’s all.

close up fence No splash?


Plant palm trees on Lake Michigan before it gets cold

The blog’s been pretty street-photo heavy these days, and by street I mean hard, real hard. So I thought it might be a good idea to soften things up, take my sassy new camera to the beach, and try to find some corners I hadn’t peered into yet. And what do you know, I did!

beach close up1 Plant palm trees on Lake Michigan before it gets cold

beach close up2 Plant palm trees on Lake Michigan before it gets cold

beach close up3 Plant palm trees on Lake Michigan before it gets cold

That’s all for now, folks. It’s 1:51 am, and Papa Bear needs his beauty sleep.


There's the shoreline like a wound

Looks like my friend Foster Beach is finally beginning to thaw.

beach thin ice1 Theres the shoreline like a wound

Those may appear to be normal waves, but it’s actually all an incredibly thin layer of ice floating on top of the water — melting remnants of a time many hours prior, when it was still cold enough to freeze the rippling waves on their way to the shore.

beach thin ice2 Theres the shoreline like a wound

The ice was barely perceptible at first — I didn’t even realize until I got much closer to the water. But the seagulls delicately perched on it should have been a give away. Seems like as good a place to eat a diet subsisting mainly of McDonald’s fries as any.

beach thin ice3 Theres the shoreline like a wound

beach thin ice4 Theres the shoreline like a wound

One of my favorite parts of photography is its ability to capture a moment forever (or at least until you accidentally spill beer on the memory card anyway) — so I ended up with something of a fetish for shooting pictures of the beach this winter. Taking pictures of the icy lake, desolate and motionless, is the closest I’ll ever come to traveling through time… unless that fucker on eBay ever gets back to me… Regardless, the beach was frozen, trapped in the past, and then my photos froze the beach, frozen in time, in time. It’s metaphysical as hell, and if that doesn’t get you giddy and excited, well… I guess… you’re less of a nerd than I am. Congratulations, jock.


I've got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

If Chicago is hell (and it very well could be), then it has officially frozen over.

I thought the lake looked eerily foreign the last time I went over there, but as the weeks passed and winter showed no sign of relenting, the beach practically turned into a replica of Pluto. And that’s kind of cool, since I heard it’s really expensive to go vacationing there this time of year.

snowy beach1 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

snowy beach2 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

I ran into a longtime Chicago resident out there who said he hasn’t seen the lake this iced over since the mid 80s. WTF global warming amiright lolol icon mad Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

snowy beach3 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

Indeed, the lake is downright arctic right now. And about as dangerous as an expedition to the real thing, too. Its frozen depths nearly claimed my real dedleg right here.

snowy beach4 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

Check out how far past the piers the snow and ice stretch — most of the year that’s all liquid water. Both of these shots were taken considerably past the shore. There is no sand underneath all that ice — just a frigid, watery grave. In some spots the ice is thicker than a concrete wall, and three steps later it’s far too thin to support any weight. As you just saw I was lucky enough to discover that first hand.

snowy beach7 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

As I’ve already noted… the terrain out there was fucking treacherous. Coming down a frozen hill, I had to go into a controlled slide. All my survival training is finally paying off. I decided not to include any photos of me drinking my own urine or eating maggots I found in a rotting polar bear carcass, but I’m good at that shit too.

snowy beach6 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

This pile of metal… shit had been almost completely consumed by snow. The waves that normally crash against it all day slowly built up, freezing and thawing and freezing again, until it resembled a set piece from fucking Hoth. Fortunately, there were no Bantha sightings.

snowy beach11 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

snowy beach8 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

snowy beach9 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

snowy beach10 Ive got this ice box where my lakefront property used to be

The East Coast might be getting all the blizzards this year, but Chicago’s winters are never to be outdone. There might not be 20 inches of snow on the ground in the middle of the city, but it’s been cold enough to freeze a lake nearly the size of West Virginia. Which is just a few notches below “cold enough to freeze your boogers,” for anybody out there who wants to get technical.


Snow Patrol

Welcome to the end of the world.

foster beach winter1 Snow Patrol

Just kidding, it’s only my old friend Foster Beach again.

foster beach winter3 Snow Patrol

foster beach winter2 Snow Patrol

I once read a quote about photography to the effect of “if you look into the viewfinder and see something you’ve seen before, then don’t click the shutter.” I’m paraphrasing, and I don’t remember who it was that originally coined that bit of wisdom, but I found it pretty impacting (although I guess not quite enough to actually remember anything specific about it).

foster beach winter4 Snow Patrol

Whether or not I always follow that advice is a separate issue altogether, but I try to keep it in mind since, shit, it can’t hurt. And on this particular day, I think I almost hit it. Although I’ve been to this spot so many times before, this time it looked otherworldly. And I hope the photos capture that… it’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.

foster beach winter5 Snow Patrol