Today was the first day I really noticed the buildings in Chicago’s small Printers Row neighborhood. I was just sort of fucking around when I decided to check out the old printing press proudly displayed in front of the Digital Realty Building at 600 S Federal St. It was actually the first thing I noticed, and the reason I started exploring the old catalog printing mecca of Chicago.
Back in my Granpappy’s day, he would obtain a Sears or Marshall Fields catalog via USPS and then mail order just about everything the family needed. While researching some things about various buildings and their previous uses, I found out that the Sears catalogs were printed in the R.R. Donnelley factory building located at 350 E Cermak. Around Christmas time, I would go through the toy section of the catalog and circle the things I wanted. I remember wildly circling anything I found even remotely interesting, not knowing that he was planning to buy me everything I circled. The buildings in Printers Row housed printing presses along with the headquarters of various magazine and book publishers. They had printing presses running constantly and the area was a hub of activity. They used Dearborn Station, located just south of the Donahue Building, to ship crap all over the place. Dearborn Station was almost demolished, but it was declared a landmark, restored, and now houses The Jazz Showcase and Bar Louie.
At the corner of Dearborn and Polk, a woman walked across the street as I snapped a few pictures of her with the Donahue building looming behind her. The Donahue building was the first factory building to be converted to condos in 1979 after the area sat mostly unused for years. The other factory buildings nearby followed it’s lead soon after and converted to condos.
I rode up Dearborn and peeked through some of the windows of the Donahue Building, until I reached the window with a drunk or homeless man sleeping inside of the Chase Bank area. I watched him sleep for a minute, in what looked like an uncomfortable position, and it was at that moment when I began to feel like I was being observed. There were a lot of windows in the surrounding buildings and I felt eyes gazing upon me, but I couldn’t determine if I was really being watched, or if it was just my imagination. It felt like I was in a panopticon, with the one hundred eyed monster’s attention focused directly on me.
Who is watching the watchers? Skinner? No no, he isn’t high enough up in the pyramid, but it could be the cigarette smoking man. Idk. Argos sees just about everything you do, and you can only assume you are being observed, because you just don’t know when he’s looking your way.
Argos was a giant who had a hundred eyes around his head, and even in his deepest sleep could only close about fifty of them, so it was impossible to deceive his vigilance. -quoted from a security company’s website who has named itself after the giant
Thats the idea of a Panopticon. Once I learned all about the idea of a panopticon and how it works, I began to learn about Foucault and his ideas about power structures, surveillance, and the evolution of punishment. I didn’t think I cared much about privacy but while reading Glenn Greenwald’s book, I discovered it interests me. It seemed strange then, I suppose, that I was riding my bike around a data collection center that might know more about me than I know about me. I found out that Digital Realty operates the largest data collection center in the world and it’s located at 350 E Cermak, the same place where the Sears catalogs were formerly printed, and a short distance from their location I was currently standing in front of at 600 S Federal. “God, these things are everywhere!” I thought.
Thirsty for more info on Edward Snowden, I started playing Luke Harding’s book, The Snowden Files. At first I thought it might just be an echo of Glenn’s book but it gives a different perspective and goes deeper into certain details. Luke’s book gives a lot more information about Snowden’s pole dancing girlfriend. She wasn’t a stripper though, she performed with a group called the Pole Cats, which is more like a dance crew or something. She seems interesting and it sounded as though they really liked each other. I tried to imagine what I would do, faced with the same situation. It’s hard to say. He must have considered just keeping his mouth shut and living the rest of his life with his hot girlfriend in Hawaii and a high paying government job that allowed him access to the most secretive information on the planet. What would I do?
“His girlfriend of 8 years, Lindsay Mills, joined him in June on Oahu, which means ‘the gathering place’. Mills grew up in Baltimore, graduated from Maryland Institute College of Art, and had been living with Snowden in Japan.” -Luke Harding, The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man