Bicycle Diaries: <i>Haunted Chicago</i> critical mass

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Haunted Chicago critical mass

I'd say around 600 massers gathered at Daley Plaza Friday night. The weather was low 40s with a light drizzle. The xerocrats were out in force as well; more than I've seen on previous masses. Along with two new issues of the Derailleur, the Green Party folks were handing out literature on their gubenatorial candidate, Rich Whitney. And there was the usual smattering of fliers for bands, cafe opennings, and art exhibitions.

Jimmie the Saint, who came up with the route, arrived later than usual. He blew out his front brakes on the ride down. Folks didn't seem to mind since Chicagoween was in full swing. Parents had brought their kids to carve pumpkins and see The Midnight Circus perform in The Haunted Village next to the Picasso sculture.

The circus atmosphere was infectious. Bike messengers were dancing, bike commuters were passing out candy, and frankenbikers were putting the last touches on their costumes. So when Jimmie finally got there nobody wanted to mass up. A few massers started by orbiting the streets around the plaza and picking up more and more massers as they went.

Probably 60% of the mass was in costume. Folks were pretty imaginative like Siskel & Ebert here. I didn't get their costumes until I noticed the boxes of popcorn in their fromt baskets.

Also I didn't notice as much drinking as last time nor did I see many massholes either. However, folks were pretty stoked for a little mass deviltry. When the mass got to the intersection at Lincoln, Diversey, and Racine, we rolled around in circles blocking traffic from all three streets. If cagers honked in anger, a dozen or so riders would dismount to raise their bikes over their heads. This happened again at Montrose, Broadway, and Sheridan. I'd never seen that before.

The only quarrel with a cager I saw got out of hand as we headed north to Montrose. A guy who was corked got out of his car to threaten the mass. This got everyone chanting, Get Back in Your Car! Unfortunately just as he was doing so, some masshole shoved him from behind. All hell broke loose. The cager and his girlfriend chased the masshole up onto the sidewalk and over a badly placed newspaper box. I got out of there as the police arrived.

For the most part, cagers and pedestrians got caught up in the holiday mood. They shouted compliments shouted for their favorite costumes. Some even threw candy from their balconies.

By the time we got to Montrose Harbor, the mass had dwindled down to maybe 200. Jimmie had planned on telling a few scary stories but the drizzle had picked up. Folks were a bit cold. Others had afterparties to get to.

I wish I'd given my costume more thought. Just one person got who I was supposed to be. That was a masser who rode up asking, Are you Lenin? I should have gotten a Soviet flag or made a sign, perhaps saying, I didn't like Stalin either! Oh well, there's always next year ...


[note: thanks again to Don Sorsa for the 2nd, 4th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th photos.
To see all of his photos go here.]

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