If not, you’re probably asking, “What is Journey To the End of the Night”
Well dear reader, Journey To the End of the Night is a race crossed with elements of children’s games like Tag and Manhunt. Your playground? The city itself.
At 7pm this Saturday hundreds of people will descend on Welles Park. They will be given arm bands and a map with checkpoints. Once the race officially starts they will all be runners and will have to avoid being caught by a chaser. If they are caught they too become a chaser. The object? Get to all the checkpoints on the map, by foot, without getting caught. Much harder than it sounds.
You will find yourself creeping through alleyways, hopping fences, running your heart out and seeing your city in a way you never have before.
If this sounds like fun. Feel free to join us at 7pm and prepare to run for (the time of) your life. It’s completely free!
Last Tuesday a coworker and I grabbed dinner after work at “Goddess and Grocer” downtown. It was a nice night out so after eating our meal outdoors she suggested that we walk back to her place in Lincoln Park where she would then drive me back to my apartment in Wrigleyville.
My legs were still mighty sore from ‘Journey to the End of the Night‘ a few days earlier but I figured the exercise would do me well and give me a good chance to shoot some photos.
My normal body is a Canon 5D Mk II and it is hands down my favorite camera I’ve ever owned, however it’s a bit bulky and expensive to be carrying around day to day. What caught my eye about the Lumix was it’s small size, excellent low light performance and it’s compatibility with a variety of micro 4/3 lenses. It’s the perfect camera to throw in my bag and have on me at all times which made it the perfect camera for ‘Journey.’
The opportunity to go for a walk on this particular night was an opportunity to further test out my new toy. What follows are the shots from that night.
This morning at 10:30 AM I did my first ever live media appearance for WGN 720 AM on ChicagoNow Radio. It was a real pleasure and I was way more comfortable than I expected I would be. I think there are probably two clear reasons for this:
One of the hosts was a friend of mine: Amy Guth. Amy is stellar and that made it a lot easier than talking to a complete stranger.
The classes I’ve been taking at IO have really done the trick! It’s already made me more comfortable in a performance atmosphere. Specifically helping me maintain my composure and gaining an ability to think on my feet.
(This post is a follow up to my first entry found below or here. So If you have no idea what I’m talking about, go read that and this.)
I was introduced to Journey To The End of Night last year by my good friends Aki and Mark. They had participated in the inaugural Chicago running of the event in 2008 and when they told me about it I nearly died with excitement.
This year we were joined by my friends Lee, James and Kat, all who were really excited to participate.
James is an experienced runner and one of the most creative people I know so when I told him about Journey it was right up his alley and he brought along his always awesome girlfriend, Kat Carolan. Then there is Lee. Lee in addition to being one of my closest friends is he a member of local sketch comedy group, Long Pork. So naturally with his theatrical roots, Lee had to do something unique and ran the event in a suit.
This year’s Journey started off at Eckhart Park on the corner of Chicago and Noble. There we found Aki, Mark and their friend Alyssa waiting for us. There were over 400 people waiting in the park eagerly for the game to start. We picked up our maps and our arm bands, tying on our red bands symbolizing our starting status as ‘runners’ and putting the yellow ones in our pockets hoping never to need them.
Huddling together with our maps we began to formulate plans of how we would get to our first checkpoint. We had six stops to make and we knew we wouldn’t all survive but we were going to do our best to make it through. Before we knew it it was 7pm, the race was on and everyone was dashing east through the Chicago Avenue traffic.
Immediately we saw one of the “staff chasers” on a bike aggressively coming towards us. He managed to catch Kat soon after and unfortunately we had to leave her behind. Our little group got split up almost immediately but we stayed in touch and managed to reconvene at the first checkpoint on the corner of Hickory and Haines down on the South East side of Goose Island. Clearly the planners of the event had made some intelligent decisions. There are only 5 roads that enter or exit Goose Island meaning at some point every participant of the race would need to cross over one of them leaving them exposed for attack. At the first checkpoint we found people in robot costumes, they signed off our maps and gave us our clue for the second one.
We made some new friends on the way but eventually found ourselves split up and with myself, James, Lee and another guy Joey, being chased through an industrial waste management facility and almost back where we started. By the time we got our bearings we had hopped a fence into an industrial parking lot on the corner of Halsted and Division and did our best to avoid contact with other participants. When we got to the second checkpoint we caught up with Aki and Mark again but soon found that Alyssa had been caught. From there we made a pretty easy run through the third and forth checkpoints ending up in Oz park near the Tinman statues. There we came upon a giant scrabble board and tiles where we needed to create words in order to move on.
Aki and Mark were pretty beat at that point so we tried to figure out the most direct route to the 5th checkpoint, the park on Diversey Harbor. Quickly after leaving the park a female chaser came out of nowhere tagging Mark and then Aki and going for more of us. Aki took the opportunity to argue with her the legality of her double tag sacrificing herself to buy the rest of us time. The rest of us (Lee, James Joey and Chris, another guy we picked up along the way,) cut deep into the park along the zoo and managed to make it over to checkpoint 5. However, some of Chris’s friends were waiting there with yellow bands on and made it clear they planned to follow us out of the park. Chris took one for the team and lead them off in one direction while James, Joey, Lee and I ran off to the far end and managed to catch a bus up the Lakeshore drive to Rosco Street.
From there it would be a straight shot to the finish-line, The Town Hall Pub on Rosco and Halsted. We were extremely cautious as we got closer and closer. At the last minute I spotted a girl with a yellow band who saw me and then suddenly shouted “RED!!!” at the top of her lungs and charged at me. It was now 11:50; the event was ending at 12 and I had been walking almost non-stop for 5 hours. There was no way I was going to give up now. I dashed down Rosco as fast as my tired legs would carry me and lost her in a crowd outside of a bar successfully making it to the finish line where James, Lee and Joey would soon join me.
We celebrated for a bit outside before going into the bar to enjoy some music, comedy and a pitcher of sweet sweet victory. We had completed the journey and although we were all very tired we were immensely proud of what we had accomplished.
It’s been almost a week now since Journey to the End of the Night and I am still covered in mystery bruises and aches, and every time I notice them I smile and think of what a great time I had. The most profound thing for me though was something I noticed while driving to get a haircut yesterday. I was driving down Halsted Avenue in Lincoln Park and suddenly knew exactly where I was and what was around every corner. Journey has given me a deeper appreciation, understanding, and excitement for Chicago.
In the two times I have participated in it I have learned more about Chicago than in all of my three years living here. It’s made me fall in love with this city in a way that I wouldn’t have otherwise had I just continued to go about my daily life commuting too and from my job. I hope you find this conveyed in my photos, it’s definitely given me some ideas about where I’d like to go back to and shoot on future days, or maybe just hang out.
(For the first set of photos please check the first entry, found here.)
Friend’s it feels like forever since I first started talking about it but my new blog on ChicagoNow has finally arrived! (Don’t worry I’m going to keep posting on Subism as well.) There were a number of reasons why it’s taken this long but the fact of the matter is it’s good to go at long last.
The focus and name has changed slightly, originally the name was going to be “Beyond The Loupe” a horrifically bad pun on Chicago’s Loop area downtown and an old school photographer’s Loupe for viewing negatives and slides in detail.
There were a couple of problems with this name:
Too many people don’t know what a loupe is
The pun was a bit cheesy even by ChicagoNow standards
It sounded too much like “Beyond The Pedway” Tim Jahn’s awesome podcast about Chicago startups.
So I settled on Focal Points as it still manages to be a photography pun but does a much better job at conveying the idea of my work taking Chicago’s iconic landmarks and showing them in a new perspective which is something I am passionate about, sometime that I feel Subism is all about. You’ll hear more on this later as the site matures.
For my first two entries I’ve decided to focus on my experience over the weekend participating in Journey To The End of the Night which took place over the weekend. The first 18 photos from the set are now online with my account of the adventure and the remaining 18 to be posted on Friday.
My goal is to get into a M-W-F posting schedule over there, so there will be much more to talk about in the coming weeks and months. For now please check out the site and my first blog entry: