Chicago Winter. Put the words together and what comes to mind? Cold? Wind? Ice? The mountain of salt? Oh yeah, the snowstorm that paralyzed the city last year, and left stranded motorists buried on Lake Shore Drive – the singularly famous image that looked like something from a Roland Emmerich film. Yup that’s a Chicago winter.
We all find comfort in these well-worn certainties of place and season. Which is why the January headline “Surfer Arrested At Chicago Beach” sent a jolt through cyberspace. Putting those words together did not make sense to a lot of folks. Excitement and curiosity ensued. Media jumped to attention, one following the other, on cue. Amid the predictability of another Chicago winter, here was something from left field to liven up the eleven o’clock news. Something the anchors and reporters could knowingly smile and wink over (“Brrrr! He’s crazy! Can you really surf in a LAKE!?”). How exactly did we get to this place, where a lone surfer clad in a survival 6mm wetsuit, bobbing around in stormy gray seas, just a couple hundred yards from the mecca of retail glitz and glitter that is Michigan Avenue, could grab the jaded attention of an entire city? In January.