#864: The 16th Artist

December 18th, 2017 § permalink

He’s building a slave ship in the basement.

He wants noises and lights outside the faux portholes to create the sensation of a sea at motion. He wants creaks of timber and he wants the wax replicas of chained slaves to feel like human skin to the touch. He wants a fog machine to perfume the air with a light reek of feces, urine, vomit and the other human rot that brought millions of Africans to America in chains.

It’s not just any ship Sam Smith wants to build in the basement of a restored Englewood mansion. It’s the Zong, which provided one of the most horrifying stories of one of the most horrifying eras of human history. » Read the rest of this entry «

#850: Barricades

November 15th, 2017 § permalink

There is a spot where the dollar stores no longer have chain-link fences and concertina wire rounding their roofs.

There’s a place along Illinois Route 1 — Halsted Street to Chicagoans — where the dollar stores just become dollar stores, no extra security needed in metal and mesh. Then there’s a place further north where they disappear entirely. » Read the rest of this entry «

#709: Vote Like a Champ in Just Six Steps

November 7th, 2016 § permalink

Voting is like improv comedy: The fact you’re unprepared is only amusing to you.

For the rest of us, those who take more than one stab at existence and who tire of any activity with a cover and two-drink minimum to watch state school theater majors laugh harder at their own jokes than the audience ever will, we like to be a little more prepared.

So in the vein of my Bare Minimum Voting Guide from the primary, a six-step plan that will get you voting like a champ in no time. * » Read the rest of this entry «

#665: Cuties and the Englewood Cartoonist

July 27th, 2016 § permalink

And here on a sunny Chicago morning, is the story of how an Englewood High School grad became the first black syndicated cartoonist in America. » Read the rest of this entry «

#569: The 1,001 Chicago Afternoons Holiday Gift Guide

December 16th, 2015 § permalink

Although Hanukkah is over, there is actually another gift-giving holiday in December.

Followers of the sect known as Christianity celebrate a special day called “Christ-mas” in which trees are slaughtered, cookies are left for fat, flying elvish deer-herders and Irishmen receive massive amounts of birds.

In case you want to purchase a gift for this regional folk festival, here are some ideas that will support a few of the people and organizations I’ve written about in the 150 stories that have appeared on this site so far in 2015. » Read the rest of this entry «

#6: A Serial Killer’s Post Office Grows in Englewood

May 11th, 2012 § permalink

I have to avoid the paternalist disease of praising a neighborhood just because I wasn’t instantly mugged, punched and carjacked the moment I parked the Chrysler in Englewood. » Read the rest of this entry «

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