Friday, March 4, 2016

Bye, bye bridge. Are we truly more enlightened about our surroundings?

I have my own personal pet peeve when it comes to news judgment and the types of happenings that are proclaimed to be “news” by various reporting organizations making their money in the “news business.”

I can’t stand anything that is a story only because it was captured on video. Something that wouldn’t have been acknowledged at all if not for the fact that someone felt compelled to play with their video camera at a certain moment in time.

IF THAT MEANS I expect there to be some significance to the happenings that become news, then so be it. My own hang-ups about broadcast operations is that they’re more interested in showing moving pictures than they are presenting any information of significance.

And now that many newspapers are thinking in terms of their websites and wanting to capture video snippets, they are falling for the same level of triviality in terms of what they report.

Hence, I bring up my own personal non-news story for Thursday – the demolition of the Torrence Avenue bridge at Chicago’s farthest south border.

I only know of the bridge because I am by birth a 10th Warder who was raised in Calumet City. Meaning that particular stretch of Torrence Avenue is one I have driven along so many times in my life I’ve lost count.

IT WAS THE connection between myself and the other parts of the family that remained living in Chicago proper – and not the poofy parts of the city, but in places like Hegewisch and the East Side (I don’t want to hear from some poofy downtown resident claiming Streeterville is the real East Side – it ain’t).

But that bridge over the Grand Calumet River (which is the city limits (to the north is industrial area of Chicago and to the south is Burnham – a community Al Capone and his cronies once used as a way of dodging law enforcement in Chicago) is now no more.

It seems the bridge had become so decrepit that Illinois Department of Transportation officials ordered it blocked off a year ago.

On Thursday, officials finally got around to setting up the explosives that knocked out the support beams that were holding the structure up. Now, the rubble can be cleared away and a new bridge eventually will have to be built at Chicago’s southernmost tip.

SUPPOSEDLY, THAT BRIDGE will be complete by next year. Until then, people will have to continue using the Bishop Ford Freeway (which, in all honesty, I still think of as the Calumet Expressway) as the way to get into and out of the city proper.

I first saw a video snippet posted by 10th Ward Alderman Susan Sadlowski Garza, who also published notices on her own Facebook account to let local residents know of what was happening – just in case they happened to be driving around the area Thursday morning.

But I also noticed how many television stations, web sites and newspapers felt compelled to make a story out of this – because they now have video of a bridge being blown to bits.

Not particularly good video – all the images are grainy. It’s also not like anybody did anything with their stories to try to report how this change would impact the lives of people who actually live in the area (in all honesty, it has been a few decades since I have lived there).

IT WAS JUST moving pictures of a bridge being taken down, with large puffs of smoke emanating from the structure before it collapsed into a large pile of metallic trash. Somehow, I doubt the opening of a new bridge providing access to Chicago will get anywhere near the attention of this explosion.

Watching it all made me feel like I ought to be giggling that stupid laugh of Beavis (or was it Butt Head). “Heh, heh, heh, heh, blowing stuff up is cool,” is what they’d think, before flipping the TV to some headbanger music video.

Which seems to be the tone of too much news coverage these days.


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