January 21, 2007

Bears, Best Buy Take All

The Chicago Bears took out the Saints this afternoon to face the Colts at Superbowl XLI. During which, I trudged from shelter to shelter along Lawrence and Wilson Avenues in Uptown looking for Wendy, my long-time homeless girlfriend. Mostly I found shelters from which she'd already been permanently barred. Couldn't find her.

I headed toward a day shelter. REST (Residents for Effective Shelter Transitions
) is in the basement of the massive UpTown Temple. With little signage, the side entrance is marked by men hunkered around smoking.

I started to explain to a guy who looked like the bouncer that I was looking for someone. He ignored me, so I let myself in. I found myself in a dirty, fluorescent-lit stairwell, giving me the I-really-should-not-be-here feeling. Ignoring my instincts, I descended the stairs that led to a darkened boiler room, the mechanical bowels of the aged building. Beyond a closed double do
or was a large room crammed with scores of men and a few women sitting in folding chairs around tables. A large color television was set up on a cart.

"Y'all watching the (pre-Super Bowl) championship games?" I asked the large lady in hot pink sweats at the folding table that served as check-in desk. "No," she said. "We can't get that channel, but the men are all into in the game. They're all listening on their radios." That's when I noticed the transistor radios many guys held to their ears, and that pretty much no one was watching the intrusively blaring TV.

All that humanity. Nobody fightin or arguin. Just sittin and waitin; perched together but separately on Maslow's first rung, the base level of survival. People from different places, each with a story.

I gave up on Wendy* and headed south on Sheridan Road. Driving through Wrigleyville, I saw the blue-lit rectangles of flat-screen TVs through the windows of almost every upscale renovated flat. All those TVs, all that plasma. These folk seemed closer to level four of Maslow's Hierarchy. Seems this year's homeostatic instinct to fulfill salient needs of esteem is sought by getting a bigger, better, flatter HDTV. Or so it seems for the Cub-rooting, condo-owning, credit-worthy population of Chicago's Lakeview neighborhood.

Best Buy and Comcast Corp will report fourth quarter earnings in a matter of days. I'm guessing they'll yet outshine strong Q3 reports: Best Buy Q3-06 revenue grew 16 percent while Comcast Corp saw a 15 percent growth in cable operating cash flow.

*She was okay; I found her a week later.

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