This Year’s Clam Bat Fest (sure to be a good one)

The northern border of Chicago is sharply drawn. Most distinctly by the streetlights. Evanston’s are white and far apart. Chicago’s are smoker’s teeth yellow and occur- without fail- every thirty feet.

The streets of Chicago are also neatly perpendicular. You can’t get lost, because you’re always oriented in one of four directions. In contrast, Evanston’s streets bend and curl until you think you’re headed in one direction but really you’re headed the other.

Another sharp difference is the bats. Chicago has millions of bats that rise out of Lake Michigan every night at dusk. They’re called “bats” because they use sonar- a type so loud even us humans can sense where they are in the dark- but really they’re a species of clams from southeast Asia. They were brought here to eradicate the invasive ‘Asian carp’, which they did, all-too-successfully. Now they’re the problem.

The only reason they haven’t gone north of Chicago is because they are drawn to the bright-white lights of Evanston like moths. The first couple generations of flying clams died swarming these lamps. Then, being highly intelligent invertebrate, they taught themselves to avoid their bane.

November Seventh will be the twelfth annual Clam Bat Fest, in which Chicagoans everywhere will don paper machete wings, row into Lake Michigan, jump into the water, and emerge fake-flying at dusk, eating Asian Carp at fish and sushi joints all night all across the city before re-entering the water at dawn. A good way to unwind after what should be a tense election.

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