a TigerRAWk Film

Friday, August 14, 2020

A Shared Life: Spring In Chicago 2020 - Apocalypse Edition (April - June)

The "apocalypse" continued through Spring 2020 as we remained under stay at home orders due to the COVID-19 pandemic. All concerts and other forms of in person live entertainment remained banned so I didn't get any footage from anything like that but I did experience some "live" events through social media broadcasts. These have been fun and helps a bit. Mostly, life is spent at home. I have continued to work, though for a few weeks part of that time was spent working from home. Some of the footage in this project was highlighting transit to/from work (I might have went a bit overboard with these clips, ha!) as I began to drive instead of riding public transit due in part to take less risk in regards to COVID-19 and also seeing some odd things going on during commutes or while waiting at stations. It just seemed a good idea to remove myself from public transit.

During this apocalyptic season, we had birthdays and our anniversary to celebrate as best that we could. Otherwise we continued to mostly just stay home, going out for necessities like groceries and work.

A new wrinkle that developed during this season was civil unrest due to racial tensions escalated by several incidents of police brutality or excessive force...unfortunately, these incidents increased with the protesting which turned to some rioting and looting. This happened as governing leaders began to loosen the restrictions on the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The project opens with the apocalyptic introduction clip I created...this time it is the one with added distortion that appears as "bad television/film" and other effects to give it the more apocalyptic feel than the previous "clean" version (more information on the creation of this intro clip here). Layered on that are some still pictures of our life during Spring 2020. I continued to count the days of the apocalypse and will until we are closer to living a normal life...there's no knowing when that will be at this time.

I took longer on this project than I have in a while trying to find just the right soundtrack. It's not perfectly the way I would like it but I did feel most every song had a purpose and meaning for this season.
Our landlord decided to install some Ring doorbell security cameras at the house. On Wednesday April 1st (Day #17), the motion detector was activated allowing me to see a squirrel take a tumble while attempting to get to the bird feeder. I saved the video clip and included it into the project. As I returned from work using public transit, at the CTA Roosevelt station I captured fog rolling into the city from the lake. On Thursday April 2nd, I captured the emptiness of downtown Chicago during my public transit commute to and from work. It was a bit eerie to see the city that is usually quite busy to be so empty during regular business hours. I continued to take public transit for another week or so, often riding in the car alone though on a couple occasions, it would be a bit more busy. I began to weigh the risk and started to consider driving to work figuring the driving commute wouldn't be as bad with less traffic. My decision to quit riding public transit came with a few instances of crazy people on the commute or those who seemed to feel that following the guidelines to mitigate against COVID-19 did not apply to them...but especially one case of a lady fighting against nothing and spitting at it while the nothing apparently fought back too!

I opened this video project with a song by the Pomegranates called "Surfing The Human Heart." It seems to be a song asking for help from God in a time of exhaustion. It seemed appropriate with the pandemic.

On Sunday, April 5th (Day #21), we took our first grocery shopping trip during the apocalypse. We figured out a plan so we would not be in Meijer too long and began using the "Shop and Scan" option so check out would hopefully be a bit easier, quicker, and allow for less people handling out items. I captured a shot of the aisle where one would usually find toilet paper and cleaning products which was now empty due to Americans causing a shortage, in part, by hoarding. On Tuesday, April 7th (Day #23), a decent storm rolled through. I went outside to see if I could capture any good lightning. I did get a couple decent strikes but hoped for better. I checked the Ring and took a some footage from that as well. I edited and posted the strikes using iMovie on my iPhone 8 to Instagram that evening.

We fog our apartment to prevent against bugs from time to time and decided to do so on Wednesday, April 15th (Day #31). I was working from home that day so we could get it done during daylight hours and not take away a weekend day. While the fogging process happens, we sit in the attic laundry room. I captured a clip of Stein looking out the window next to the creepy mannequin while we waited to return to the apartment. April 15th is our friend Tessa Allen's birthday. She does tax preparations (her company linked to her name) which makes it all the more fitting. Nate Allen asked me to compile a bunch of clips he had sent to him to make a birthday video for her. I don't think it was ever posted publicly...but I had fun creating it for her and it seems that she enjoyed it as well. On Friday, April 17th (Day #33), we had a spring snowstorm which seems pretty normal in Chicago. I think that did end up being the last real snow....there may have been some flurries after this and there were definitely some very cold days but I think this was the last real snowy day.

The next song I included for the soundtrack was "Doe of the Morning" by Psalters. It is a fairly long song with a message for justice. I wanted to use it due to the injustices that occurred during this season and felt it appropriate. The song ends just before any of the footage of the unrest is showing.

On Tuesday, April 28th (Day #44), I drove home from work during quite the storm. A lightning strike occurred as I crossed the Chicago River while driving on Lake Shore Drive. I did the best I could to capture it in slow motion from the car camera. It looked way more epic in real life. On Wednesday, April 29th (Day #45), the storms continued as I turned 40. I would be working from home the rest of the week as well as the next Monday. I decided to get pizza from Falco's and Elphie got a panzerotti as a collective birthday celebration. My gift from Elphie was to be able to watch whatever I wanted, movie-wise...so I took full advantage of that! It was strange, of course, celebrating a birthday during COVID-19 pandemic and its stay-at-home orders. Not just on this day but throughout this time and really for quite some time, people have taken to arguing about silly things. In particular, with the pandemic, I am seeing people who act as though the virus does not exist and that efforts to mitigate it are oppressive, tyranny, and evil...not to mention politically motivated. I had one person, who believes himself a prophet, try to "curse" me with the virus (so far in all the testing I have had the opportunity to take, I have not been positive for COVID-19 so I guess this "curse" didn't quite work out, ha!) for not declaring his glory for (among other things) his supposed saving of his state (Iowa) from the economic hardships due to the pandemic induced shutdowns. This "prophet" also seemly made a threat of violence against me should there be an Audiofeed in 2020 (I wonder if that will be still in effect in 2021?). To me, it seems we should just do what we can to mitigate this virus...not make it political and argue against ourselves, get so angry with one another, and/or put others at risk.

On Tuesday, May 12th (Day #58), there was a flyover by the Blue Angels to honor the "first responders" and other "front line workers" who were working throughout this pandemic so far. When it flew over near Cornerstone Community Outreach, I went outside and captured a clip of the flyover. On Wednesday May 13th (Day #59), Elphie celebrated her birthday. I decided to make her a quick video for her birthday which I posted to her facebook page (and if you are her friend on there, you could see it). I returned the favor of watching whatever movies she wanted to watch but we didn't do much else to celebrate in these pandemic times.

On Tuesday, May 19th (Day #65), I took footage from the car camera of the foggy commute. On Wednesday, May 20th (Day #66), Elphie and I decided to drive to get a look at and capture some footage of the Sears Tower which was dark due to a power outage from the weekend flooding. It was a strange and eerie sight to see. It appears there is a face on the west facing side of the Sears Tower. We captured shots from a shopping center near Roosevelt then drove on Halsted to get shots from the west side of the building. I'm glad that we did so when we did as power was restored the next day. I captured this footage mostly using my Canon Rebel T6 due to its capacity in lower light conditions.

On Thursday, May 21st (Day #67) I saw an interesting sticker stating that "fear is a liar" on a garbage can near where I work so I took a shot of it. The message seemed to ring true to the times we have been living in...and it rings even more true with what was to come. On Sunday, May 24th (Day #70), we had originally planned to be flying to Finland then onto Russia but the COVID-19 pandemic changed everything. We went grocery shopping instead and hung outside with our landlord and his family and the upstairs tenant when we returned to have a bonfire. On our way to get groceries, we passed a Zombie Outbreak Patrol vehicle. It was equipped with flashing lights, if not sirens, and appeared to use those flashing lights to get through stopped and slowed traffic. The driver appeared to be wearing some sort of official uniform as well. This was a bit strange and worthy to be captured and shared, ha!

On Monday, May 25th (Day #71) it was Memorial Day. I decided to go to work and on my commute home, I captured some boats on the lake where they apparently were not supposed to be according to orders by Mayor Lightfoot. This day, an event in Minneapolis would change a lot of things in this country going forward that probably no one expected. A man, George Floyd, was killed by police as a bystander was recording it and asking for mercy for the man. This would spark protesting that would spread around the world. In some cases, efforts to mitigate against COVID-19 seemed to be set aside, to some extent, as demonstrations occurred against the police brutality and excessive force against people and more specifically, people of color. This occurred when many of the restrictions we have been living under in Chicago were to be lifted. I watched the video either the next day or the day after that. As I worked through the week, I also watched video of the unrest in Minneapolis and figured it would eventually come to Chicago as well. I had a day off to use so I decided to use it on Friday, May 29th and that evening the protesting began in Chicago and would go on through the weekend and into the next week. Like in other places, some chose to riot and loot and some police officers chose to use excessive force against even those who were peacefully demonstrating. The civil unrest caused downtown Chicago to be restricted to public access. Bridges were lifted and traffic was blocked and there was a curfew which included the suspension of public transit. The rioting and looting then spread to other parts of the city but where we live remained fairly safe. We walked to the store on Sunday, May 31st (Day #77) while there was some rioting and looting going on in areas around us but we did not witness anything at the time. We could hear some sirens and such all around us. I decided to play around with this clip by layering the clip and modifying the speed of the footage to give it a more unsettling and ominous feel. When I returned back to work on Monday, June 1st (Day #78), I had to take an alternate route. I could not access my normal route due restricted access to downtown so I drove north up Western Avenue then drove east on Lawrence Avenue. As I drove north, I witnessed some of the damage from some of the rioting and looting. Where I work in Uptown there was not too much damage. Some businesses did sustain damage and had to be boarded up while others boarded up as a precaution. As I left that evening to go home, a protest approached Uptown. I captured a few shots of its arrival and the riot police setting up. I had to walk through them to get to my car. On my drive home, I took the same route and saw most of the businesses which sustained damage had been boarded up and others were doing so as a precaution. Some had written on the boards that they had already been looted. It was a bit of a sobering sight to see all this as I don't believe I had ever lived in a place where and while such unrest was occurring. I used some footage that Skot Shaw shot as the demonstration passed on Wilson Avenue. After the demonstration ended in Uptown, some folks did come through and cause some trouble including breaking windows in businesses and some police used more excessive force against protesters. I captured some footage of the aftermath walking around Uptown after depositing my work check on Tuesday, June 2nd (Day #79). On Wednesday, June 3rd (Day #80) I was able to drive using my normal route to work on Lake Shore Drive but I noticed downtown remained restricted due to the bridges being lifted. Some of the downtown exits off of Lake Shore remained blocked by police as well. On Friday, June 5th (Day #82), a protest and vigil in honor of Breonna Taylor was planned in Uptown during my work hours. I went out to watch as the march passed by. In my opinion, of the three recent police involved deaths of people of color that we have heard about (not that I wish to be ranking these in any way), her death at the hands of police is, by far, the worst instance in that the police entered her home on a "no knock" warrant. Her boyfriend, who was legal to carry a gun, took a warning shot and police returned fire, killing Breonna Taylor and peppering the apartment with bullets...also hitting other apartments. The only punishment so far has been due to the stray bullets hitting other apartments. I believe "no knock" warrants should not exist and I believe that those involved in this killing ought to be brought to justice. I included the entire march as it passed me. I chose to keep the natural audio and did not add any additional soundtrack to this clip.

The soundtrack to these clips of the aftermath of the civil unrest includes "Riot Gear" by Five Iron Frenzy and "I Wanna Riot" by Rancid. Again, I decided to not layer a soundtrack over the march for Breonna Taylor leaving the natural audio. I think both songs pretty much are self explanatory. 

On Saturday, June 6th (Day #83), Elphie and I headed to Indiana for our usual grocery trip. We also decided to get a car wash. We noticed major traffic backed up headed into the city and considered alternate routes home but we made it back without much difficulty. As we drove south on the expressway, I noticed graffiti of a nude Marge Simpson. I captured it with the car camera which wasn't the clearest resolution but I did the best that I could to show this spectacle. It was removed by the next time we drove through the area.

On Monday, June 8th (Day #85), the bridges were lowered opening downtown Chicago once again to public access. We, the citizens of Chicago, were no longer grounded by Mayor Lightfoot.

Elphie and I celebrated our fifth anniversary on Saturday, June 13th (Day #90). We got Andy's Frozen Custard to start the day then drove over to McCook, IL where a part of Route 66 has been abandoned due to mining by a nearby quarry causing the road to become unstable. Despite the "No Trespassing" signs, we were able to access the road and walked along the entire stretch that was abandoned. The roadway, while stable enough to walk on without much concern, was definitely uneven and broken up. Nature has begun to reclaim it. We had vultures flying overhead. I captured some shots of the quarry as well with its green water due to the minerals in the rocks. I captured the Sears Tower from the road as well. We found one hole where a cone had apparently been placed but mostly hidden by plant life. Elphie found a twisted metal tube that she took and now hangs in our house. It was a good walk and I did capture quite a bit of footage. We decided to get Bree Thai for dinner and played a game of Jenga while we ate. We invited a few friends over for a bonfire to end the night. I captured some interesting colors in the fire as well as some nearby fireworks during the night. After our friends left, we watched the Nocturna live stream where we got a "shout out" for our anniversary and Scary Lady Sarah played "Love Song" by The Cure for us. The next day, Sunday, June 14th (Day #91), we went to McKinley Park where we fed the squirrels and the ducks and geese.

A lot of what we did for our anniversary revolved a bit around wood due to that being the official theme of the fifth anniversary. It was a nice day spent together. We've spent a lot of time together under current conditions but that doesn't matter. It is good to celebrate five years together. I am glad to spend it with Elphie. I am glad we haven't gotten on each others nerves too much! Love is a good thing!

The soundtrack I used for the footage of our anniversary included "Love You Till The End" by Pogues, "Don't Look Back" by Squad Five-0, "Care For You" by Wolfsheim, "Love Song" by The Cure, and "Tin Cans" by The Castros. They all fit well with the theme of the day I thought as love songs with "Don't Look Back" also having some apocalyptic feel to it in my opinion.

For the day at the park clip, I used "White Riot" by The Clash. It really fits more with the civil unrest but I added it here.

On Thursday, June 18th (Day #95), Elphie received Garbage Pail Kids Monopoly in the mail and we played it that night. I won. This is a night we tend to watch game shows so it seemed appropriate to be playing a game! On Saturday, June 20th (Day #97) we drove passed the demolition of the Wrigley Factory on 35th Street and Ashland. On Monday, June 22nd (Day #99), the Lakefront was re-opened after three months of closure due to COVID-19 mitigation. The beaches remained closed as well as an area called "the playpen" where boats congregate but I saw boats in the "playpen" (captured in this video) and folks on the beaches and swimming. The trails were open and people were permitted to use them. They had been using them for a while now but it was officially ok. Vehicle traffic remains closed though, which for me means continuing to seek out free parking when I go to work each day. On Thursday, June 25th (Day #102), as I left work, a protest outside of the office of Alderman James Cappleman was beginning. The protest was meant to hold him accountable for equitable housing opportunities for minorities and people of color as well as for police reform to the extent in which he has power. As I drove home, I saw some Good Samaritans helping a disabled vehicle off the street. I felt like including that positive act in the midst of so much negative going on.

I included "We Say" by Stavesacre in this part because the political message of the song felt about right to me.

On Friday, June 26th (Day #103), there were storms rolling through Chicago. I captured one lightning strike on my way into work on the car camera and was able to slow it down enough to get a good look at it. When I got home from work, another storm was kicking up so I captured the clouds coming in. During the storm, while there was a lot of lightning, from my vantage points I really only saw the flashes. As the rain let up some, I started seeing more lightning bolts at the front of the house. A rainbow formed as well and I captured some lightning in the rainbow. The sky also turned a strange hue of pink while the rainbow remained and also turned pink...the rainbow remained as the sun set and I captured the sunset from the back of the house at the end of the storm. I originally posted some clips to Instagram from this storm where I did the editing to slow down the lightning using iMovie on my iPhone 8 but I redid the edits for this project using Final Cut Pro on my Mac Mini.

I included "(La Pioggia Triste Triste) The Sad, Sad Rain" by Leper due to the storm.

On Sunday, June 28th (Day #105), we went over to McKinley Park again and fed the squirrels. Some took the nuts right from Elphie's hand. On Tuesday, June 30th (Day #107), while we should have been preparing and packing to leave for Audiofeed, I was instead working on this video project. Audiofeed was delayed until September...if it were to happen at all in 2020.

The additional soundtrack is "Surfing The Human Heart" by Pomegranates, "Doe of the Morning" by Psalters, "Riot Gear" by Five Iron Frenzy, "I Wanna Riot" by Rancid, "Love You Till The End" by Pogues, "Don't Look Back" by Squad Five-0, "Care For You" by Wolfsheim, "Love Song" by The Cure, "Tin Cans" by The Castros, "White Riot" by The Clash, "We Say" by Stavesacre, and "(La Pioggia Triste Triste) The Sad, Sad Rain" by Leper.

This project was filmed using an iPhone 6 and 8, CrossTour CR900, and Canon Rebel T6 by Elphie and Joel A. Swanson. An additional clip filmed by Skot Shaw is also included as well as some footage from a Ring Doorbell. 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.

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