When it began, one probably didn't expect what 2020 has become: an apocalyptic type of year. Australia caught fire, a war seemingly nearly broke out, then a worldwide pandemic called COVID-19 more or less put a stop to life as we know it for most folks. I was among the fortunate ones to be able to continue my job and even was given a few days to "work from home" along with a "hazard" pay increase. As I write this, we continue to live in quarantine due to the pandemic induced "stay-at-home" orders and guidance. Of course you have some folks who are making it political, arguing over this or that, coming up with conspiracy theories, and upset over the rights they believe that they have lost due to government overreach. I am thankful to know a lot of folks who, during this time, are stepping up in loving kindness to those around them and even creating services to meet needs that are unique to this time.
A part of me wishes that I had done more activities in the time we had before the "stay-at-home" orders and guidance went into effect. Perhaps a few more shows. Maybe attend some local minor league hockey or maybe made a trip to Pittsburgh for a Penguins game. I dealt with some unusual illness during the early months of the year that had me miss a couple days of work and generally not feel up to going out to a show or anything else. Oh well...hindsight. We had been planning a trip to Russia and invested money toward that so I felt I should be somewhat mindful of spending and certainly did not have the foresight to know that some things I did pay for in advance would not be happening (and with that said, I hope to get refunded for things not rescheduled).
Some good that has come from this though has been seeing a lot of live performances on the internet of bands or artists that I likely would not have seen or in a way that no one has likely seen done. I think in hard times, the creative folks really step it up and that has certainly come through during this time.
The last few years, I waited until the year was over to post each of the seasonal "A Shared Life" clips. I tried to have the blog ready so that I could post each season's video about one week apart in January and be able to share the blog within that week at least as well. Part of the reasoning for that was that I wasn't getting the projects done in a very timely manner. I might have finished a project for one season in a reasonable time but not others. I also had work to finish on projects from the previous year to get done and I wanted to get them posted before getting these seasonal ones posted which was a self imposed deadline and restriction. An example, I think that by the time I finished the winter project last year, it was June or July (though it may have been much later). Now I know it is nearly June as I type this, but under the current circumstances, I think I will probably get a chance to finish up the seasonal projects at least within the following season (for example, I am finished with winter while it is still spring and not yet summer) so that I can post them within a reasonable time of the end of the season. I finished the last of the projects from 2019 and I don't have anything on the table that needs worked on nor any prospects of projects that are needing to be done. I may work around with some stuff here or there but nothing is pressing and nothing has deadlines currently to stop me from getting these seasonal projects done in a timely manner.
This project documents the winter of 2020...January through the end of March. Things began to change in March as far as the effect on our life and I began to document when the "stay-at-home" orders and guidance were placed on Illinois and Chicago as the beginning of the apocalypse somewhat tongue-in-cheek. I also decided to make an intro clip that will start these videos. This project happens to have an early edition of that clip before I added some effects to make the images appear old with static noise, anti-alias, and bad film and television effects. I made a new edition after I finalized this project and though I could probably make the change, I am just going to leave it alone and let the remaining apocalypse era videos have the new edition. I wrote a short blog regarding the apocalypse intro that you can read about here.
On Wednesday January 1st, I decided to go into work on New Year's Day this year and so I captured some clips of the morning commute.
On Friday January 3rd, we gathered with our friends Josh, Anastasia, Kevin, Jasmine, and Cindy in Aurora, IL for a Murder Mystery Dinner party. It was a fun game.
On Saturday January 4th, Elphie and I attended a punk show put on by Quinn Anderson. It was in a cold building running off generators in a skatepark behind a Mexican restaurant called The Fallout. Quinn put on a RAD show! Her band, KillCult played and did a great job! She also did one song with What's Your Damage to make a music video you can watch here (some of my footage ended up being used). 2Minute Minor also played and a bunch of other bands I either am not familiar with or much less familiar with: The Big Cheese, Constant Buzz, Signals, Miracle Whip, and The Kreutzer Sonata. It was a lot of fun to see a punk show like this.
On Thursday January 9th, as I waited on the bus to go to work, I noticed stuffed animals attached to the side of a nearby garbage truck. I thought it was funny so I captured a shot of it and included it in the project. This is the second garbage truck I have seen decorated with things possibly from someone's trash. A couple years ago I documented a garbage truck with a painting or picture attached to its side. I also included a still shot of a headline from a Pittsburgh news station that read "These Aren't My Pants" which I of course shared to Five Iron Frenzy!
On Friday January 17th, as I walked to the bank after work in a blizzard, I noticed and captured filming trailers along broadway in Uptown indicating some sort of filming was taking place which turned out to be ChicagoPD.
On Saturday January 18th, we once again came out to Uptown for Mellie's birthday party at JPUSA. While it was done snowing for the most part, it was pretty cold. I tried to pay for parking but the machine would not accept my payment. I lucked out and did not receive a ticket. It was a fun time hanging with friends.
On Friday January 24th, it had become significantly warmer and between rain and the melting of the snow, there was a lot of fog in Uptown. I took a lunchtime walk to capture a shot of it.
On Tuesday January 28th, as I waited for the train at the CTA Roosevelt station, I captured some police activity as they searched another train. I think the culprit escaped, at least from the platform, though perhaps captured in the tunnels or on the roads below.
On Friday January 31st, I went to Concord Music Hall to see Thrice and mewithoutYOU. mewithoutYOU had stated that this would be their last year as an active band (COVID-19 has caused a change in those plans) and Thrice was celebrating 15 years since the release of Vheissu. I missed the first band of the night. I ended up capturing "Paper Hanger" by mewithoutYOU and "Music Box" from Thrice. Dustin Kensrue was having difficulty due to illness but he got through the set. I really do like Thrice, but I don't necessarily like the live experience and it mostly seems to be due to the type of people in the crowd...at least wherever I end up. I had hoped to capture "Weight Of Glory" but I didn't realize they started into it until it was too late but I do like "Music Box" and glad to add it to the collection of songs I've captured by Thrice which is mostly all songs from Vheissu at this point. It really is a good album front to back...probably my favorite.
On Thursday February 6th, Leper played what was intended to be a fundraiser for Chicago Tiny Houses at the Safari Lounge. They played a bit of a stripped down set due to lack of equipment. I captured "Skeleton Hands."
On Saturday February 8th, the annual Ollie Mob Meetup to play WhirlyBall occurred in Vernon Hills, IL. I didn't get to play in every game as I did last year and I didn't score any goals this year but it was another fun time with the crew and afterwards we ate at Portillo's again. Additional soundtrack in this clip is "Ollie Ollie" by Flatfoot 56.
On Tuesday February 11th, I captured some rats on the tracks at the CTA Roosevelt Station. I had thoughts of a lyric from "Timothy Hay" by mewithoutYOU as I captured this, though I didn't chose to use that track in the soundtrack.
On Thursday February 13th, we had a hard day at the shelter. One individual took it out on a wall. You never know what some folks are dealing with and unfortunately in this case, whatever this individual was dealing with, it wasn't something that we could help him with in his present state.
On Friday February 14th, it was the coldest day of the year. I commuted to work on this Valentine's Day while it was zero degrees.
On Saturday February 15th, Guy Allen joined us to go to Nocturna at Metro. There was one person who had all sorts of glowing apparatuses with her that I captured on video.
On Wednesday February 19th, I documented the start of McDonald's Shamrock Shake Season!
On Saturday February 22nd, I microwaved the remaining Peeps from Christmas and filmed the spectacle of it.
On Wednesday February 26th, I had some some bubbles on my finger for some reason and Stein seemed particularly interested in it so I captured his reaction to the soap bubbles.
On Saturday February 29th, on Leap Day, Josh and Anastasia decided to host an open mic and songwriting workshop at their home. In the video footage I labeled it as The Uh-Oh House but they have decided to call it The Burrow. There were performances by The Uh-Ohs, Butterfield Creek members (Steven and Skittles), 6'10, Burn The Barn, The Psalmist, John Ludwig, Buzz, Panda, Bill Kingsbury, and Justin Wheeler of Modern Daybreak. We also took the time to celebrate Josh's birthday. Once again, it was good hangs with friends.
On Monday March 2nd, I caught He Is Legend at Bottom Lounge. I captured "Dixie Wolf (The Seduction Of...)." It was good to see them again after a few years and I was able to get their new record.
On Wednesday March 4th, the Free And Equal Open Presidential Debate was held in the Hilton in Chicago. Elphie had taken an interest in the candidate Vermin Supreme and decided that she really wanted to go to this and I decided it sounded like an interesting experience so I decided to go as well. And it was indeed an interesting experience! I felt like I was able to learn some things about the world of politics as well as about the values and platforms of some alternative parties to "duopoly" as the Republican and Democrat parties were often referred as. There were a few Libertarians (including Vermin Supreme) and various Socialists, Greens, Independents, and even some lower level Democrats and Republicans. Vermin Supreme, of course, was quite entertaining. There was one guy who stated that he'd essentially dismantle the federal government on his first day in office then promptly resign. The Independent candidate, Mark Charles, who is Native American, made points that really make me think about things from a different perspective. One point being the inherent racism and classism of the Constitution as it was originally written and still remains so despite some amendments. It was an interesting event and I am glad to have gone. I hung around for a while afterwards and Elphie stayed even longer for the after party. Additional soundtrack in this clip is "Hey America" by Headnoise.
On Friday March 6th, Elphie and I attended a pole dance charity event. I did not get any shots from this. I was fighting off a cold during this event and didn't really feel the best. I also wasn't sure that it was appropriate so I chose not to capture any footage.
On Saturday March 7th, before the Flatfoot 56 show at Chop Shop, there was an Ollie Mob Meetup at Palermo's of 63rd to enjoy some great pizza. It was a good time as usual. Afterwards, the Bawinkel's told us that the Indian statue from Wayne's World was just down the street so we drove by it and got a shot of it. That night, at Chop Shop, I got to hang with Sid Duffour and rode home with him afterwards. Bryan McPherson opened the show followed by The Crombies and AM Taxi. I captured a new and yet to be released song from Flatfoot 56. I also captured Kyle and Tobin talking about the Ollie Mob meetup from earlier in the day as well as the demise of the Dan Blysma bobblehead I gave Kyle prior to the show. It didn't hold up to Kyle bouncing the stage and he lost his head.
On Sunday March 8th, Elphie and I went to Vic Theatre to see Drew Lynch perform his Speech Therapy comedy stand-up show. It was enjoyable. We ended up in the balcony because there were no seats available on the floor. We tried to sit in an area that was apparently reserved for folks with physical disabilities, and were reprimanded. The balcony wasn't too bad. We didn't want to wait to go through the meet and greet line but I captured a shot from outside the door.
Because of the connection Elphie made with Vermin Supreme and his campaign manager online, it worked out that Vermin Supreme would stay the night at our house and we would possibly drive him to Peoria for the state Libertarian convention. I left work a bit early and we picked up President Vermin Supreme at Midway on Thursday March 12th and brought him to our house. Some folks came by to hang out who were local members of the Libertarian party and our friend Flex Luther. It was on this day that professional sports (which included a Pittsburgh Penguins game I hoped to watch) ground to a halt due to COVID-19 concerns and it was suggested that people should not congregate in groups. The term social distancing was being used and recommendations to "elbow bump" instead of handshake, hug, or other greetings. To some extent, there was some lighthearted joking about the situation at this point. That evening, with his consent, we took President Vermin Supreme to Cobra Lounge and he went into campaign mode and character. Friends met up with us there included Dubil, Betty, and Kathleen. We went from there to Exit which was having a "Fetish Night" and Betty and Kathleen rode with us there. We hung there for a while. Vermin got a few drinks and continued to campaign until about 1am or so. We headed back to the house and Elphie played him in a table top basketball game before we all got some sleep for the drive in the morning.
On Friday March 13th, we drove President Vermin Supreme to DeKalb, IL where he was able to ride with a delegate to the convention. Upon returning home, I considered going to a punk show that evening. The lineup originally included a good friend but he had to drop out due to health concerns regarding COVID-19. The strong suggestions against gatherings led me to decide to not go, though part of me wishes that I would have.
On Monday March 16th, we began to live life under the new "stay-at-home" orders and guidance. I (somewhat tongue-in-cheek) began to label clips as "Apocalypse" with this being day one. The clip shows me headed to work then drinking a Shamrock Shake. I wanted to make sure I got one as I wasn't sure if they would be available on Saint Patrick's Day with the uncertainly of the new restrictions on what we could and could not do.
On Tuesday March 17th, Apocalypse day 2, it was a strange Saint Patrick's Day. It was also primary election day in Illinois and it was said that "democracy must go on" so folks still went to cast their vote while being ordered to "stay-at-home." I was able to obtain one last Shamrock Shake to end the season successfully. We also got to watch the live stream of the Dropkick Murphys which was one of the first of many to watch in the new normal of live music.
On Sunday March 22nd, on the first day of spring the Apocalypse (day 7) took a turn for the worst as we were hit with another snowstorm.
On Monday March 23rd, Apocalypse day 8, I enjoyed a socially distant commute home on the CTA being the only person in the train car for most of the ride. It was a strange feeling to ride alone on public transit in Chicago during evening rush hour.
On Wednesday March 25, Apocalypse day 10, the Penguins game against the Blackhawks was to be played that night but it became a casualty of COVID-19. It appears at this point that it will not be made up. I think at this point, this was the greatest personal impact so far.
On Saturday March 28th, Apocalypse day 13, another turn for the worst as we cooked the last of our venison on the grill.
On Monday March 30th, I captured some graffiti during the morning commute of Apocalypse day 15 of a Simpsons character. I had wanted to capture it for a while but this was the best chance I got and with the social distancing, it allowed me the room to sit on the CTA where I could capture it easily.
On Tuesday March 31st, Apocalypse day 16, I captured the emptiness of downtown Chicago during my commute.
Additional soundtrack includes "Tornado In The Winter" by The Trigger Code and "Nothing" by Ballydowse.
Footage filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. Titles created using Motion 4 on a Macbook by Joel A. Swanson. Edited using Final Cut Pro on a Mac Mini by Joel A. Swanson