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Thursday, March 31, 2005

Stand-by Unit 10:
POV of a Chicago Photojournalist

Invevitably amongst us, icons rise up. Given any crowd, on any day, one individual will bubble up through the masses and become its reference point.

Sports is not exempt. In fact, Sports is the leading producer of Icons on the Planet! Pound-for-pound, more HeeRoes are manufactured globally per season than one could shake a stick, bat or foot at.

Here in the Center of the Universe, otherwise know as the MidWest, this phenomenom is no stranger. Hey, Chicago has 2 STAR pro baseball teams, 1 basketball, football, 2 hockey, 2 soccer, etc, etc, and a plethora of heavenly COLLEGE bodies – we’re bound by law to have at least a handful of superstars – even in those lean years no-body is collecting them trophies!

But THIS could be the Year as we March to the Arch and I am a fly-on-the-wall in these hallowed Halls of CouldbeFame. My job is not to get pictures of the action on the field/floor, but to find and record those people and happenings in the stands, bleachers, and bar stools that just could be the NEXt Defining Sports Moment…

Like late last week, in a monstrously HUGE sportsbar out by O’Hare Airport, I found myself pulling cable to wire up a live position for the evening news. I picked a spot on a little cul-de-sac platform in the corner of the bar, under a DJ booth. On the weekends, this must’ve been the dance floor for those one-drop-over-the-line types who only dance after a hundred beers or so because, we all know REAL MEN don’t Dance…

Hence, this was a very small space.

This did not stop the Manager from filling it with about 24 folks, all dressed in Orange (& blue) eating Orange Food (Buffalo Chicken Wings & BBQ) drinking Orange Beer (anything by Bud). A small wooden railing seperated us from the rest of the fan-filled-to-capacity bar, hundreds who were busy watching 4 huge screen sound-around TVs, fueling up for the SHow Down NCAA Playoff game between the Illini and the entire State of Wisconsin.

The scantily clad waitresses (now, Hooters is half a Mile down the road and they’ve taught us Hooters IS Football!) wafted about in their shiny hose and mini-shorts, moving through the crowds like cigar smoke, finding their openings, taking the field. I followed their lead, and spirited my equipment and lights in to my covert position.

And there I saw him! The One. The Ultimate. The Defining Moment/Man of the NCAA Playoffs: Mr. Blue Hands!

Like hundreds of men before him, come rain, sleet or snow! he had taken up the mantle of Fandom and made the Sacrifice!

In a darkened corner of the little dance platform, his girlfriend was busy smearing Bright Illini Orange Paint all over his ample naked torso. She had already finished the excruciatingly detailed Blue *I* on his bald head; the exagerrated Arches over his eyebrows – the Blue Lipstick was in place. He was Ready to become just what this Sporting Event needed to catapult it into the Championship Annals of Fame:

One Brightly Painted Man…

When he was done being adorned, he strolled over to introduce himself to me/my camera. A president could not have walked with more dignity and stature. I rose up to my full height and accepted his partially orange hand and shook it with relish, as the Mighty Blue Puppet Hands rested on the table near. Somehow, staring into his eyes, I knew he was going to be more in my immediate future than perhaps I was prepared to endure.

Although my reporter swore later she had avoided it at all cost, Mr. Blue Hands was in line for a Live Pop during our shot, along with a femFan wearing Lucky ORange Shoes (cute!), and a Grandma wearing a blinking Illini billboard hat (cuter!). These folks stood waiting in the bowling alley of fate, ready to be picked off one-by-one by our producer’s call and we began! Suddenly, all spoken sound was GONE! It and our measly position was overun by 40 shouting bodies – some with trumpets and drum, tuba and tamborine, pompom and pomp! The Illini CHeerleaders and Marching Band had Arrived, unannounced and full of loud mobile PEP!

DIVE backwards LIVE on TV and catch the WAVE! Catch Mr. Blue Hands as he comes hurtling towards you; dodge the dodgy paint job and fight for your threads…


9 responses to “Thursday, March 31, 2005”

  1. rachelkates says:

    Ouch! My eeeeeyes! Can’t… look… away… ack! from picture of … ack! ack! … scary suburban painted man.

  2. Melissa G says:

    I was wondering if you would find yourself witnessing and recording the hype.

  3. Sarah says:

    Go Illini! We get to wear Orange & Blue to work tomorrow and I will be cheering with the rest of the crazies on Saturday.

    Sarah (U of I class of ’91 and soon to be ’05 as well)

  4. monica says:

    Go ILLINI! It is fun to be cheering on a winning team in Chicago-land for once. I’m sorry it’s not so fun for you!

  5. Amy says:

    Too funny, Bonne Marie! I live in Illini-land (that’s Champaign/Urbana Illinois, for those of you who haven’t been watching the mania), and have seen enough orange in the last month to satisfy my Vitamin C requirements for the nest year, at least.

    That’s not to say I’m not a fan, of course. I-L-L—-I-N-I !!!!!!!!


  6. Wait…what???? You have a job outside your knitting? I am shocked, and equivalently more humbled at your amazing knitting prowess. *Bows Down* to photojournalist.

    I’d love to hear more about this job….

  7. Toby Wollin says:

    Wow..if I didn’t know any better, I’d have thought you were in Syracuse, NY, where Syracuse University’s “The Orange” rules ALL year long (their mascot really is a guy dressed up in a big foam “Orange” suit)and the fans, in general(especially if they are at the Carrier Dome) are referred to as “The Orange Crush”!!!

  8. camille - class of '01 says:

    I was there at the same bar near O’Hare that day, too! I thought I saw you :) GO ILLINI!

  9. Wanda says:

    OUCH! ‘Nuff said.

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